Sun has the tough job of defending China's failure to keep to its promise of allowing reporters freedom to cover China and the Games, the promise it made in 2001 when it was bidding for the Games. He is a government functionary, stolid, and capable of giving flat denials and putting full stop to questioning.
Davies has a tougher job with higher expectation of frankness, given her IOC role. So far, she has refrained from criticizing the IOC's partner, China, and fairly consistently delivered lines like: "We are very pleased with how the organizers are putting up a great sports event. The organizers have put together an operationally successful event for the athletes. That's what these Games are about."
So it was good to hear her hit a harder note when she was asked about the roughing up of John Ray, ITN's Beijing correspondent on Wednesday. "The IOC does disapprove of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulations," Davies told the daily press briefing. "This, we hope, has been addressed. We don't want to see this happening again."
It is rare for the IOC to sound even this critical of a note, but there have been exceptions. IOC spokesman Kevan Gosper broke discipline when the issue of restricted Internet access broke out shortly before the Games started. And President Jacques Rogge was critical of China around the time of the Tibetan riots; he expressed his "great concern" over the violence there. But basically, the IOC has tried to distance itself from overt criticism of China, particularly around the media issue.
favorite IOC quote was one made not in public, but in a meeting CPJ had with the
IOC in their headquarters in
"It is not within our mandate to act as an agent for concerned groups," Felli said. "Journalists are imprisoned all over the world, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons."
It's good to hear Davies start to talk tough, but I'm afraid it is the IOC's tone-deaf approach since 2001 to the question of media freedom in China that has gotten us to this point.
(Reporting from Hong Kong)