New York, May 12 – The Overseas Press Club of America and more than 25 other media and press freedom groups worldwide are urging the International Olympic Committee to include press freedom issues in its talks with the Chinese government ahead of the February 2022 Winter Olympics.
In a letter sent on May 11 to the International Olympic Committee, the organizations cite a report from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China showing that the working environment for journalists in China has deteriorated. If these conditions are applied to journalists covering the Winter Olympics, the letter says, they will compromise the media’s ability to do its job.
“It is essential that the IOC not allow this to happen,” said William J. Holstein, co-chair of the Overseas Press Club’s China Working Group. “We are asking the IOC to use its media accreditation process in a way that promotes Olympic values, including free and robust coverage of China.”
Rule 48 of the Olympic Charter states that all decisions concerning coverage of the games rest with the IOC, the letter notes. The charter also states that the IOC will “take all necessary steps to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world.”
Specifically, the groups ask the IOC to:
• Require Chinese government assurance of non-surveillance and non-interference with international journalists and their Chinese sources.
• Receive assurances in writing from Chinese authorities that international news organizations can hire local staff of their choosing, without seeking approval from the Chinese government or going through state-affiliated personnel organizations.
• Receive assurances in writing from Chinese authorities that international journalists may interview without interference whoever agrees to be interviewed. The Chinese government should establish a hotline for violations.
• Urge China to establish clear guidelines for processing times for journalist visa applications, and to extend journalist visas to online-only media organizations and freelance journalists.
• Urge China to create a dedicated point of contact in the Public Security Bureau, staffed by people who are conversant in the law regarding foreign journalists and who can speak with authority to security officials elsewhere in China.
The full text of the letter can be viewed here.
For more information, please email OPC Executive Director Patricia Kranz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Overseas Press Club of America is the nation’s oldest and largest association of journalists engaged in international news. Every year, it awards the most prestigious prizes devoted exclusively to international news coverage. It was founded in 1939 by nine foreign correspondents in New York City, and has grown to nearly 500 members worldwide. The club’s mission is to uphold the highest standards in news reporting, advance press freedom and promote good fellowship among colleagues while educating a new generation of journalists.