In Beijing, CPJ meets with International Olympic Committee

Beijing, August 9, 2007—A representative of the International Olympic Committee told the Committee to Protect Journalists that it would continue to address CPJ’s concerns about reporters’ freedoms during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. CPJ is concerned that some eased restrictions on foreign reporters, which went into effect in January, had not been extended to Chinese journalists, and that the IOC and China were falling far short in their pledges to ensure full press freedom during the Games.

“The new rules put into effect earlier this year are a big step forward. Their implementation is a work in progress to be followed closely as we move toward Games time,” Giselle Davies, IOC Communications Director, told CPJ’s board chairman Paul Steiger.

“The IOC is working hard to ensure that the organizers address the reporting needs of all accredited journalists covering the Games,” Davies said.

CPJ had sought the Beijing meeting as a follow-up to a meeting with the IOC at its headquarters in Lausanne in November.

”I am pleased to learn that the IOC regards as important to the success of the Games that all journalists, domestic and foreign, will have the freedoms necessary to do their job,” Steiger said after the meeting. “We will watch closely for indications of further progress.”

Steiger led a three-person CPJ delegation to Beijing to launch CPJ’s report on the state of Chinese media in preparation for the Games. “Falling Short: As the 2008 Olympics Approach, China Falters on Press Freedom” was released at a press conference in Beijing on August 7. The report outlines the failure of China to follow through on pledges to increase media freedom in the country for the 2008 Games. When the IOC awarded the Games to Beijing in 2001, the committee said China had assured them that conditions for journalists would meet international standards. The promises made by China and the IOC did not distinguish between foreign and Chinese press. Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator and Kristin Jones, senior researcher for the program, were also part of the delegation.

Though China lifted some restrictions on foreign journalists in January 2007, many tell CPJ that conditions have not improved significantly. And the new rules do not apply to Chinese journalists. In fact, since China was awarded the Games in 2001, central authorities under President Hu Jintao have increased restrictions on the domestic media. China continues to hold the dubious distinction of holding at least 29 journalists in jail, the most of any country.

A CPJ delegation met with the IOC at its headquarters in Lausanne in November 2006 to call on the IOC to deal with these issues. CPJ continues to call on China and the IOC to fulfill the pledges they made in 2001, and work to assure that all journalists in China­—both local and foreign—are allowed to freely operate before, during, and after the Games take place in August 2008.