Thursday, July 31, 2008

Still Chutzpah

The cat is now out of the bag. As Nick Mulvenney reported for Reuters last night, the International Olympic Committee knew about China's intention to reserve the right to block access to certain Internet sites all along:

"I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on website access during Games time," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers.

"I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related," he said.

So the Chinese "art" of negotiation seems to have extended beyond "making the International Olympic Committee look like complete idiots" to making them look like calculating liars. Is this what Jacques Rogge, IOC head, had in mind by "silent diplomacy?" Whatever the answer to that rhetorical question may be, China has still earned with Chutzpah of the Week award, perhaps scoring bonus points for leaving the IOC with egg on its face.

Meanwhile, Mure Dickie has provided a follow-up report for the Financial Times:

The head of the International Olympic Committee’s press commission on Thursday suggested its president Jacques Rogge might have acquiesced to Chinese plans to censor the media’s internet access during the Beijing games reports AP in Beijing.

”I would be surprised if someone made a change without at least informing” Mr Rogge, Kevan Gosper said. “But I really do not know the detail.” Mr Rogge on Thursday declined to comment in Beijing.

This leaves me wishing that he had someone like Howard Baker investigating this whole question of Internet access: What did which members of the IOC know and when did they know it?

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