Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the International Olympic Committee’s choice of Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
After the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, today’s announcement shows that the IOC continues to support regimes that openly flout human rights and freedom of information. Beijing will now be the world’s first city to host both a Summer and Winter Olympics although the Chinese authorities are pressing on with a major crackdown on journalists and bloggers. Reporters Without Borders is appalled that the IOC is so out of touch with the reality of the human rights situation in China. “The decision to award these games to China is a blank cheque for all the freedom of information predators, who will be able to carry on flouting the fundamental freedoms of their citizens without suffering any international consequences,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The Olympic Games are supposed to transmit such universal values as respect for others and living in peace. By awarding the games to Beijing, where freedom of information is being obliterated, the IOC is consigning these values to the trash.” One of they key arguments in the Chinese application was the pledge to put a great deal of effort into reducing Beijing’s air pollution. Reporters Without Borders regrets that the same effort will not be put into reducing the ubiquitous propaganda, releasing journalists and bloggers, and promoting media freedom. Beijing mayor Wang Anshun promised to hold “games that are joyful and harmonious, games that are safe and reliable.” This is very ironic, because “harmonization” is the term used in China to refer to the government’s censorship and news control. The 2008 Beijing Olympics were accompanied by a wave of arrests, convictions, censorship, surveillance and harassment of dozens of journalists, bloggers and dissidents. As China celebrates today’s announcement, the health of Gao Yu, a journalist detained since May 2014, continues to worsen and many other well-known journalists and human rights activists remain in prison. Those arrested last year include the cyber dissident Xu Zhiyong and the Uyghur blogger Ilham Tohti. This year, reporters and activists working for the news website 64Tianwang have joined the list of about 100 journalists and netizens currently detained in China. China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.