Sports

At Beijing Press Conferences, the Questions Inform Their Personal Story

BEIJING — The primary query on the Olympics day by day information convention on Saturday got here from a German reporter, and anybody may have guessed what he would ask.

“On the Kamila Valieva case,” the reporter started, referring to the teenage figure skater in the midst of the most recent Russian doping scandal, “are you able to clarify why it took six weeks for the optimistic take a look at consequence to come back to gentle?”

The second query went to a reporter from Xinhua, the official information company of China, and the discourse went, nicely, some other place.

“What’s the favourite dish among the many athletes?” the Chinese language reporter requested. “Do you could have a selected quantity for what number of roast geese are being served?”

On this went. There have been 12 questions requested in English, and 11 had been in regards to the doping scandal. There have been seven questions requested in Chinese language, they usually had been about, mainly, anything.

It was, in a single neat hour, an ideal encapsulation of the parallel strategy to reporting on the Video games contained in the Olympic bubble. Every morning inside a cavernous corridor, reporters from outdoors retailers outdoors China pepper the Worldwide Olympic Committee spokesman with usually indelicate questions on what’s awry. In between, home reporters question his Chinese language counterparts about all that’s nicely.

The 2 press corps, in fact, have totally different goals, and limitations. However hardly ever are they so starkly juxtaposed, and for such an prolonged interval, as they’ve been at these Video games.

“The entire goal of the media right here is totally different,” stated Mark Dreyer, a Beijing-based analyst for China Sports activities Insider. “Within the West, it’s to carry folks to account, expose lies, corruption, all that stuff, in addition to report information. Right here, it’s to inform China’s story. If it’s not formally authorities managed, it is authorities permitted. And should you’re too removed from that line, you get in hassle.”

China has made small concessions to accommodate the Olympic equipment. Individuals on the Olympic grounds, for instance, get pleasure from “barrier-free web,” permitting them to avoid the nation’s regular firewall and entry web sites and on-line platforms most Chinese language can not.

Nonetheless, most often, it’s as if the 2 press corps are dancing facet by facet, inside the identical cramped ballroom, to 2 totally different songs.

The tone was set on the opening information convention of the Video games, when reporters typically fireplace questions on numerous controversies on the president of the Worldwide Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.

First, although, got here a query from China Central Tv, the state broadcaster. “After two years of darkish occasions,” the reporter requested, “do you are feeling the approaching of spring?”

The whiplash was palpable when a reporter from Reuters then stepped to the microphone to ask Bach about his plans to satisfy Peng Shuai, the Chinese language tennis participant who disappeared from public life for weeks after accusing a high authorities official of sexual assault (Bach did meet her). Tales about Peng proceed to be censored in China.

The diverging sensibilities have been on show on the Olympic venues, too. On Thursday night time, after China misplaced to the USA in hockey, a reporter requested a participant from the Chinese language group, which has a number of naturalized gamers, how he felt about enjoying alongside his “international nationwide teammates.”

A Chinese language reporter turned, stunned. “You possibly can’t say international nationals,” she stated.

Equally, at Saturday’s I.O.C. information convention, after three consecutive questions from worldwide reporters urgent Olympic officers in regards to the Valieva doping case, a Chinese language reporter modified the tone.

“There are a variety of tremendous performances by the athletes, a variety of Olympic information are being damaged” she stated. “Is that this good efficiency associated to the assist of the Olympic villages, the great service to the athletes?”

You possibly can guess the reply.

The Western journalists have procured few solutions to their delicate queries. The Chinese language journalists have usually acquired flowing, paragraph-long responses to theirs. (Chinese language media retailers, Dreyer stated, usually adhere to requests to submit questions earlier than officers are made out there interviews.)

On Saturday morning, a Chinese language reporter requested Zhao Weidong, the spokesman for the host committee, if he had any remark about the truth that some athletes had carried out nicely and a few had not.

“I need to share with you a historic story on Olympic historical past …,” Zhao started, the beginning of a two-and-a-half-minute soliloquy that spun a story from the 1908 Olympics right into a lesson on the significance of mutual respect.

The reporter had grooved a fastball down the center of the plate, and Zhao had slammed it out of the park.

The session, although, ended with a nice shock.

Granted the final query, a reporter for The Related Press stepped to the microphone, addressed the Chinese language spokesman, and, shock, requested about meals: Had been there kosher and halal choices on the athletes’ village?

These reporters’ pursuits may align generally, in spite of everything.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/12/sports activities/olympics/ioc-press-freedom-china.html At Beijing Press Conferences, the Questions Inform Their Personal Story

Fry Electronics Team

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