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IOC policy on journalists freedoms in Beijing 2008

The Committee to Protect Journalists board member Jane Kramer, European correspondent for The New Yorker, and CPJ Senior Research Associate Kristin Jones, meeting today with IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli and Communications Director Giselle Davies at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, called attention to increasing restrictions on the press in China and urged the IOC to raise concerns during the run-up to the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008.with the Chinese government.

The IOC representatives said it is not their policy to comment publicly on their discussions with host countries and that they prefer to work discreetly. But they said “assurances have been made that the media will have access to perform their tasks as journalists reporting on the Games.”

“Our focus has been on ensuring access for accredited foreign journalists going to Beijing to cover the Olympics,” Davies said. All accreditation is handled through the Chinese Olympic Committee, Felli added. The officials said the IOC had not considered the special risks faced by Chinese journalists.

After the meeting, CPJ’s Kramer said: “We are very concerned that once the closing ceremonies are held and international attention fades, Chinese journalists will bear the brunt of official retribution for reporting any news that the government deems unfavorable. It is in the interest of the IOC to hold China to its promise of ensuring that all journalists, Chinese and foreign, are able to cover every aspect of the Games without obstruction or fear of reprisal."

Chinese citizens working for domestic and foreign news agencies are at great risk. In August, authorities handed down prison sentences of three years to Zhao Yan, a New York Times researcher, and five years to Ching Cheong, a correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times. CPJ research shows that both were targeted as a result of their reporting.

“It is not within our mandate to act as an agent for concerned groups,” said Felli, or to bring specific examples of media repression to the table.

"Journalists are imprisoned all over the world, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons," he said. The IOC representatives added that they would consider cases brought to their attention by CPJ, and that they hoped a dialogue between the two organizations would continue.

From: At International Olympic Committee headquarters, CPJ raises concerns about press freedom in China Lausanne, Switzerland, 15 11 06

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