NBC says Winter Olympics coverage will include ‘geopolitical context’ following China backlash from lawmakers

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NBC, the network that owns the broadcasting rights to the Winter Olympic Games, is vowing to include “geopolitical context” in its coverage of this year’s game, which is set to occur in Beijing, China.

The vow was issued during a video presentation to reporters Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“We understand that there are some difficult issues regarding the host nation, so our coverage will provide perspective on China’s place in the world and the geopolitical context in which these Games are being held. But the athletes do remain the centerpiece of our coverage,” Molly Solomon, the executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said during the presentation.

The vow marks a victory for Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner, who assembled a group of 28 Republican (including her) and two Democrat lawmakers, and then submitted a joint letter to NBC last Friday requesting that the network “air all footage of human rights protests during the 2022 Winter Olympics.”

“As the 2022 Winter Olympics approach, we urge you to air all footage of human rights protests captured during your coverage of the Winter Olympic Games, notwithstanding pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to silence dissidents. We remain gravely concerned that the PRC will use the event as a platform to disseminate propaganda and distract from its egregious human rights abuses, including its ongoing genocide against Uyghur Muslims,” the letter reads.

“While we still believe that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should revoke the PRC’s hosting privileges, in the event that the Olympics proceed as planned, honest and transparent coverage will help the international community defend persecuted groups like Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong residents, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and human rights advocates.”

Wagner celebrated following NBC’s announcement Wednesday with a tweet.

“Last week, I called on NBCUniversal to broadcast all human rights protests during the Winter Olympics in China. Today they announced they will cover these critical events, a major victory for human rights worldwide,” the tweet reads.

The Winter Olympic Games, set to begin Feb. 4th, are expected to contain drama, particularly because the Chinese Communist Party has warned Olympic athletes against speaking out about the CCP’s well-documented human rights abuses.

“Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against the Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” Beijing Organizing Committee official Yang Shu said during a press briefing Tuesday, as reported by The Washington Post.

The Post noted almost defensively that the International Olympic Committee has its own established rule that also bars political protests at the Olympic Games, though the left-wing paper did concede that the CCP’s rule is “stricter.”

“But China’s formulation of its rule appeared to be a shade stricter than the IOC’s, raising questions about how Beijing plans to interpret and enforce it,” according to the Post.

No kidding …

Solomon for her part pledged Wednesday that “if something happens, we’ll have our own cameras on site.”

What that “something” might be remains to be seen, though some suspect it could mean jail time or worse.

Responding to the CCP’s threat, human rights advocate Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch noted that it constitutes “a serious violation of athletes’ basic right to free speech.”

Worden has been particularly outspoken about the CCP’s human rights abuses, particularly its genocide against Uyghur Muslims.

Vivek Saxena


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