The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the decision to award the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to Beijing and calls on the International Olympic Committee to ensure that journalists are able to freely cover all aspects of the Games, including sensitive issues such as construction of the venues, possible protests, and any allegations of corruption. The IOC announced its decision early today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to news reports.Local and international human rights and press freedom experts have repeatedly expressed deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in China, which has included a crackdown on journalists, activists, and academics.
“Beijing has consistently clamped down on the basic human right of free expression by stifling criticism and silencing dissent,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “China’s record on press freedom and human rights is not one that deserves to be rewarded. The success of the 2022 Winter Olympics will depend not just on venues and ratings but also on respect for human dignity as enshrined in the Olympic Charter.”
Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games after pledging to, among other things, ease its policies toward local and foreign media. Almost none of the substantive changes it promised are in effect. For more than a decade, China has been among the top three jailers of journalists in the world, according to CPJ research. With at least 44 journalists behind bars, China was the world’s worst jailer of the press in 2014, according to a prison census CPJ conducted in December. In addition to imprisoning journalists, Beijing has passed restrictive new laws and denied visas to international journalists. China was also ranked eighth on CPJ’s list of 10 Most Censored countries.