We are writing to you on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest professional organisation of media professionals, representing over 600.000 members in over 140 countries, to express our serious concerns over the working conditions of journalists covering the Winter Olympic Games organised in Beijing and the threats to their privacy and security.
IFJ’s concerns are based on the Chinese government’s long track record of media freedom violations in recent decades and its status as world’s biggest jailer of journalists as documented by our organisation and many others. The media crackdown has intensified in recent years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic surge, which has been widely used by the authorities to ban the entry of journalists and impede their ability to do their important work despite complying with all hygiene and safety regulations.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), its Asia-Pacific branch, dozens of its affiliates and many groups defending human rights and freedom of expression have documented and exposed such incidents over the past years.
Additionally, several international reporters have denounced intimidation, threats, censorship, and denial of accreditations by the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), while many have warned of the high risk of journalists’ devices being hacked and tracked. The success of the Winter Olympic Games will depend on journalists’ ability to work and report freely during the event, without censorship, threats, or spying practices from the Chinese authorities.
In this regard, we are calling on the Olympics Committee to take a clear stand for journalists’ rights and unequivocally tell the Chinese authorities that they must commit to fundamental press freedom principles and protect journalists’ rights. China must treat our colleagues equally regardless of their country of origin and should not interfere in their communications during their professional stay in China.
Besides the general crackdown on independent media, the Chinese authorities have repeatedly ignored the demands by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) to improve the working environment for journalists covering the Winter Olympics and have planned deep restrictions over journalists’ freedom of movement which will lead to inevitable censorship and limited reporting during the Games.
The success of the Winter Olympic Games will depend on journalists’ ability to work and report freely during the event, without censorship, threats, or spying practices from the Chinese authorities.
Younes Mjahed, IFJ President
Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary