By Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis
WASHINGTON -The United States on Thursday urged China not to restrict access and movement for journalists reporting on next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China this week said it was concerned about a lack of transparency from organizers of the Feb. 4-20 Games.
“We urge PRC officials not to limit freedom of movement and access for journalists and to ensure that they remain safe and able to report freely, including at the Olympic and the Paralympic Games,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a regular press briefing, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Activists are calling for the United States to impose a boycott or keep its officials from attending the games over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in its northwest, which the United States has said constitutes crimes against humanity and genocide.
China rejects such accusations.
Price said he did not have an update on the U.S. position on participation in the Games. U.S. officials have in the past said they would consult https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2022-usa-china/u-s-to-consult-allies-over-beijing-olympics-china-warns-against-boycott-idUSKBN2BT2TH allies on the matter.
All participants at the Games will be subject to daily COVID-19 tests. International media will be enveloped in a “closed loop” including three clusters of venues – one in downtown Beijing, one in the outskirts near the Great Wall, and one to the northwest of the city, in Hebei province.
International journalists’ attempts to cover the preparations have been “continuously stymied” in breach of International Olympic Committee rules and China’s promises made when it bid to host the Games, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China said in a Twitter thread https://twitter.com/fccchina/status/1455397747842961414?s=20 on Tuesday.
Organizers have denied or ignored requests for access, said the Beijing-based club, which shared testimony from members who said they were harassed and abused for trying to provide independent coverage of preparations for the Games.
At a regular press briefing on Friday, a foreign ministry spokesperson said that journalists were allowed to cover the Beijing Winter Olympics provided they abided by relevant laws and regulations.
China firmly opposed the politicization of sports and was opposed to “fake news” reports that smeared China and the Beijing Winter Olympics, the spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; Editing by Chris Reese, Dan Grebler, Robert Birsel)