(UPDATED) I was going to hold this one until the “OlymBics” started, but I see that circumstances have overtaken me. Contrary to assurances but consistent with experience, yes, the Beijing Olympic organizers are going to censor journalists’ Internet access. But guess what: CBC is doing something similar.
We begin with Jaques Rogge, who is not as imperialistic and corrupt in his role as head of the International Olympic Committee as Samaranch was. I exaggerate somewhat. Here is what Andrew Jennings, author or creator of the numerous books, articles, and, yes, television documentaries about Olympic corruption, told me in response to a question about Rogge vs. Samaranch: “Rogge? Collegial. They all bloody are. The IOC remains inward-looking and unaccountable. In such conditions corruption will flourish.” This is by no means a smoking-gun accusation of corruption, but, almost like fluoride, it’s part of the water supply in Lausanne.
Now: CBC is all proud of itself for hosting athletes’ blogs during the Beijing Olympics (which commence, as CBC captioning errantly puts it, on “eight, eight, oh-eight”). But even that article – by CP, but posted at CBC.CA, no less – states:
The IOC rules for blogging forbid any advertising or sponsorship of or on the blogs, unless it’s coming from an official Olympic sponsor.
No video or sound of events are allowed either, and photographs from venues can only be posted if they’re of the athletes themselves and don’t capture any of the action.
The blogs must also follow the Olympic charter, which forbids them being used as a form of political statement or protest.
That’s fine with canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny.... He said he and his teammates... found the guidelines fairly strict. For example, a domain name like
SevignyOlympic.comisn’t allowed, while
Sevigny.com/Olympicis fine – but only during the Olympics themselves.
Swimmer Annamay Pierse said the rules make her uneasy about blogging and, while she’s kept an online journal in the past, she’s deferring to social networking sites this time around to keep in touch.
Pierse did not respond to a request for comment.
A similar request is pending with Beauchesne-Sevigny. No, he wrote back (update, 2008.07.31 21:45):
I used the term “fairly” strict, not “too” strict, for the reason that I respect CBC for giving the athletes certain guidelines in their blogs. Athletes are allowed to share their Olympic experience with the world and that’s what I’m interested in. I will be able to express how I feel during the competition without a third party writing down my words. I’ll be describing how an Olympian feels before and after his races, whatever the result. Even if I don’t have a front-page-worthy performance, I’ll be able to tell the world how I felt crossing the finish line, and that’s what my blog is about. I think that’s a plus to the Olympic coverage.
What do the blogging rules actually say? They’re unhelpfully published in a shitty PDF from a Windows user who can’t overcome MS Word defaults.
The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these Guidelines, as a legitimate form of personal expression and not as a form of journalism. [...]
Glad we got that settled.
It is required that, when Accredited Persons at the Games post any Olympic Content, it be confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, blogs of Accredited Persons should take the form of a diary or journal and, in any event, should not contain any interviews with, or stories about, other Accredited Persons. [...]
In any event, blogs of Accredited Persons containing Olympic Content should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and the fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, and be dignified and in good taste.
No sound or moving images of the Games
[...] No sound or moving images (including ) of any Olympic events, including sporting action, Opening, Closing and Medal Ceremonies or other activities which occur within any zone... may be made available, whether on a live or delayed basis, regardless of source.
As a general rule, blogs by Accredited Persons containing Olympic Content must not include any still picture taken within Accredited Zones at the Games. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Accredited Persons may feature still pictures taken of themselves within Accredited Zones provided that such pictures do not contain any sporting action of the Games or the Opening, Closing or Medal Ceremonies of the Games....
Advertising and sponsorship
As a general rule, Accredited Persons must not include any commercial reference in connection with any Olympic Content posted on their blogs. Specifically, this means that no advertising and/or sponsorship may be visible on screen at the same time as Olympic Content it is of the IOC TOP Partners (listed on
http://www.olympic.org/marketing).... Accredited Persons may not post Olympic Content on the websites of third parties, and should take all reasonable steps to stop third parties from doing so, if there is any association being made between such third parties or other advertising and/or sponsorship and, on the other hand, the Olympic Content. [...]
Domain names/URLs/page naming
Domain Names including the word “Olympic” or “Olympics” or similar are not permitted (e.g.
mynameolympic.comwould not be permitted while
myname.com/olympicwould be allowed but only during the period in which these Guidelines are applicable).
Here’s the best part:
Responsibility and further restrictions
BOCOG, the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations and other entities present at the Games (e.g. media and sponsors) are in charge of ensuring that their respective delegations (i.e. those persons to whom they grant accreditation to the Games) are informed of the content of these Guidelines and agree to fully comply with them.
In other words: Get in bed with us to telecast the Olympics and you have to police everyone who gets in bed with you.
Is the Chinese government the problem, or is it merely one of the problems?
CBC: Canada’s public broadcaster. Jacques Rogge’s personal enforcer.