Olympics: The good and bad of a country

May 28, 2008

newearthquake.jpgChina 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.

3 comments

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If you don’t come to china,you never know the chinese culture. why do you always want every country to become the western democracy? Chinese people become more and more rich. As long as people live in a comfortable level,We don’t wehther or not my country is western democracy. Iraq become more and more desperatly with the western democracy.

I’d say that old lady in the picture, who’s on the back of the soldier, is a Tibetan. Half of the earthquake hit areas are ethnic regions, with Qiangs and Tibetans living there.

Posted by Yuan | Report as abusive

The olympics is money for the media, incredible amounts of money, so where ever the olympics may be held the media will follow. There was concern about how the media would be used by China, & media people made all the correct noises about freedom & so China said there would be media freedom, but freedom outside China & freedom inside China are hardly likely to be the same thing & are proving not to be. But the media got the Chinese promise & that is all that matters, that is all they needed, truth doesn’t come into it.
The sport? What about the sport? What has that got to do withy anything?