Today, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge arrived in Beijing in the midst of an internal IOC squabble that threatens to publicize highly embarrassing details of discussions between Beijing and the international organization. As Jennifer Rubin noted today, China has confirmed that, during the Olympics, it will be blocking certain websites from the media covering the event, thereby dishonoring commitments to the IOC that it would not censor the internet during the Games.
Yesterday, IOC press chief Kevan Gosper charged, in the words of the South China Morning Post, that “some senior IOC officials had cut secretive deals with Beijing over internet censorship and left other influential IOC members in the dark.” He then suggested that Rogge must have known of the secret agreements. “I would be surprised if someone made a change without at least informing Mr. Rogge,” Gosper said. “This certainly is not what we guaranteed the international media and it’s certainly contrary to normal circumstances of reporting on Olympic Games.”
IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davis meekly replied that the organization’s president would seek answers from China and “push for more internet freedom.” Just two weeks ago Rogge had assured the international community that the internet would be completely free. “For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China,” he stated. “There will be no censorship on the Internet.”
China’s brazen defiance of the IOC shows that the organization has become hostage to its host country. The Olympics were supposed to change China, but now we are seeing that Chinese rulers are corrupting the Olympics instead. Yet there is hope. If the brave Mr. Gosper can keep his nerve, we will, in the next few days, learn more about the sordid dealings between Beijing and the IOC, and perhaps we can then begin to repair the damage. At this point, this may be the only good that comes from this Olympics.