Olympics: The good and bad of a country
China and the Olympics bring up thorny subjects about media coverage, politics and human rights. The recent devastating earthquake that killed more than 68,000 people introduces a whole new angle to the games and how the media will cover them.
As chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, Dick Ebersol is keeping close tabs on the situation. He was asked about it during a call with reporters today. Here’s what he said:
I have to say that when the IOC gave the games to the Chinese in 2001, I was in Moscow that day. The feeling I came away with that day was it would be a major changing event for China. I knew it would be a rocky road to get there and there would be lots of protests and opposition movements but I really believed as I’ve seen happen so many times — this is the 40th year of my life that I’ve been involved with the Olympics — and every country, particularly those that were not democracies that hosted the games were changing events for that society.
I haven’t been in China a little over three weeks. But just in the three weeks, the earthquake and incredible openness that it brought for the first time to modern China in terms of how they dealt with the issue, in terms of media, and now, as they’ll have to deal with it in terms heartbreaking reactions of some of their people over whether building standards were met.
These are not things we would have read about or seen much about, even here in this country, 10 years ago. Reporters would not have been able to have the access, and you certainly wouldn’t have seen reporting of this in the Chinese media. I think you have to say that once again the Olympics have opened up another region of the world. Has it opened up as much as some would like? Obviously not. But it’s part of a process that always seems to come with the Olympics moving on to a new area. Because with it always brings exposure to both the good and bad of the country.
With the Olympics still a couple of months away, we’re bound to hear more from Ebersol on the subject. Stay tuned.