Beijing promises ‘half kept’ says Olympic expert

China’s promises given when Beijing was awarded the Olympics seven years ago have only been “half delivered” according to Ed Hula, the publisher and editor of the influential, American-based Olympic website,

Writing in his weekly Op Ed column, Hula says:

Seven years ago when Beijing won the 2008 Olympics, promises were made. Some have been kept; others we’re not sure about.

“I think certainly we will give media complete freedom to report on anything when it comes to China,” said bid leader Wang Wei in July 2001 at the IOC Session in Moscow where Beijing was awarded the Games.

For now, that’s a promise half-delivered.

With one week until the Games open, reporters and the IOC are pressing China to break down the barriers that prevent access to websites deemed politically sensitive.

Only after an outcry this week by journalists in Beijing did China relent, cracking open the web by allowing access to the websites of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

While a BOCOG spokesman says the internet is “fully open” to journalists, other sites remain blocked, such as those for Free Tibet and portions of YouTube carrying video of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

It remains to be seen if the restrictions will fall completely. And more important than the needs of journalists is the question of whether this new policy will open the web to all of China after the Games conclude? That could be a legacy far more valuable than stadiums and improved infrastructure.

Aroundtherings is a subscription website. To read the whole of Hula’s opinion piece and other reports from Beijing, click here and follow the simple steps to subscribe.

Click here to read some of BBC Panorama‘s powerful report on media restrictions in China

Click here to read Alan Philps in The Guardian compare Beijing to his experiences in Moscow with Ian Wooldridge and Christopher Booker in 1980

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