China: Foreign press group calls for full access to Beijing’s Winter Olympics

International coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing is being “continuously stymied” despite efforts to address the issue with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and International Olympic Committee (IOC). The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses deep concern and urges the BOCOG and IOC to take immediate action to ensure international press’ full access to the Beijing Olympics.

A man takes a photo of the countdown clock showing 100 days until the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, at the Olympic Park in Beijing on October 27, 2021. Credit: Noel Celis /AFP

In a statement on November 2, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) said that foreign journalists are being “continuously stymied in [their] coverage of Winter Olympic Game preparations, denied attendance at routine events, and prevented from visiting sports venues in China” despite repeated enquires towards the BOCOG.

“The FCCC calls on BOCOG and the IOC to improve international media access to Olympics events and reporting guidelines by assigning communication officers to deal with coverage-related inquiries in a timely and accurate manner and by making all pre-Olympic events open to all accredited journalists in China," the statement said.

With the games commencing in less than three months, dozens of international reporters have been unable to travel to China because the Beijing authorities are yet to approve their visa applications. According to the FCCC, China’s actions contravene the guarantees made in its bid to secure the Winter Olympic Games, where it pledged that “media seeking to report on the Games would have freedom to report… and would also be free to report on Games preparations”.

Not only has China failed to observe its own guidelines relating to international journalists’ reporting in China before and during the games, its committee has often failed to address enquires and concerns raised by members of foreign press corporations.

“We have not managed to receive accreditation, and our complaints to BOCOG have received no reply,” said one reporter with a European broadcaster. “We applied well ahead of time for test game accreditation three times between August and October 2021, but every time BOCOG told us it was too late to apply or our application was not answered at all,” said another reporter for a European broadcaster.

Section 48 of the Olympic Charter, devised by the IOC, maintains that the IOC will take “all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Games”. The IFJ reached out to the IOC’s media relations team on November 3 to request a comment and possible solution but has received no response as of today.

The IFJ said: “It is concerning that foreign journalists have met obstacles and frustration trying to cover the Beijing Olympics. The IOC should take all necessary steps to ensure full coverage by different media outlets from across the world for the Olympic Games, as stipulated in the Olympic Charter. The IFJ calls on the BOCOG and IOC to immediately take action and will pay close attention to future developments.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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