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The Olympics and life without the First Amendment


Img214073364 I can't wait until the Olympics as I'm a sports nut and love watching international competition. I'll also be tuned into what should be an interesting back story of how the Chinese government will treat international journalists there. If tidbits passed along to me in the last two days are any indication, we'll get a very good glimpse into what life would be like without freedom of speech or the press.

From a story on the AFP wire this week:

China will censor the Internet used by foreign media during the Olympics, an organising committee official confirmed Wednesday, reversing a pledge to offer complete media freedom at the games.

"During the Olympic Games we will provide sufficient access to the Internet for reporters," said Sun Weide, spokesman for the organising committee.

He confirmed, however, that journalists would not be able to access information or websites connected to the Falungong spiritual movement which is banned in China.

Other sites were also unavailable to journalists, he said, without specifying which ones.

This followed a story first reported in the Asian Wall Street Journal last Friday that several accredited foreign journalists and television camera crews were assaulted or detained when they attempted to cover a small "riot" that broke out among 30,000 people lined up to buy Olympic event tickets. There were other reports that police demanded they delete the footage of the fracas.

Once the full media contingent is in force by the time the Games start a week from tomorrow, the question is whether police and the government are going to continue their crack down, or provide the media freedom we all expect. It will be interesting to see.

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