It's our duty to shine a light on China
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | 11:15 PM ET
Covering the Olympics is a huge responsibility. I’ve already done seven of them, but directing CBC’s coverage carries with it great responsibility. People expect not only a high level of sports coverage, but also a very high level of journalism. Those expectations are heavy, but also positive. Especially this year.
There has been no shortage of opinions on China as host of the Games and its record on human rights; its treatment of Tibet; its position on Darfur and many other issues. I’ve come to the conclusion that my opinion on those issues is not important, but our network’s coverage of them is essential.
More than ever, I believe staging the Games, participating in them, and supporting them is positive in many ways. And I think China playing host can be good for the world, and good for the Chinese - if their government keeps its promise to allow the world press to report without constraint.
This is an area on which the IOC has continued to press Chinese officials. It is the most important issue for us at the CBC and, I believe, it is the issue that will determine whether the 2008 Olympics plays a role for positive change.
The common refrain is that the Olympics and politics don’t mix. That’s wrong. They do, and they must, in many ways. What is actually correct is that politics and the IOC shouldn’t mix. The IOC is a sports organization. It runs a great sports event that brings athletes, media and others together in peace for 16 days. The IOC should worry about organizing great games. In doing so, it will inevitably create controversy. In my opinion, the IOC is right to try to stay out of that controversy. Leave that to others.
The IOC awarded the 2008 Games to China for any number of reasons. Among them was to expose the ideals of the Olympics and the power of sport to the largest nation on earth. But in awarding Beijing the Games, the IOC immediately provided an important stage not only for athletes but for great debate - debate that will help us understand China better and even perhaps improve life there for the average citizen.
There are some who would like the CBC, as well as Olympic sponsors, to join the debate directly. I can’t speak for sponsors, but I do not believe that is our role. It is our responsibility to provide journalistically sound coverage of what happens on the stage that has been provided, both athletic and political.
Exposure can spark change
These Games will be historic. Apart from what happens on the field, they will either be a coming out party for China, or they could be something totally different.
Whatever happens, 25,000 media members will be in China covering what occurs inside and outside the lines. The IOC’s phrase is that the world’s media will be “shining a light” on China and its actions before and during the Games. That is what the press does. Often it leads to change.
In fact, do we think the issues of Tibet and Darfur would be getting the amount of international exposure and discussion they currently are without the Olympic “stage?” If the answer is “no”, then the positive effects of these games are already being felt.
To those who want to protest, that is their right. In fact, people should be encouraged to peacefully stand up for what they believe in. As the Olympics are being held, they will be sharing the stage.
But for those who say we should not cover the games, or sponsors should not support the Games, I ask: what will that accomplish, other than to deny Canadians coverage of their athletes at the games, and take the exposing spotlight off of China?
Lord Sebastian Coe, the great distance runner, was on the British Olympic team that went to Moscow in 1980. He has said that he believes the exposure the Russian people received from the Western world went much further in creating significant and lasting change in Russia than did the American-led boycott of those games.
Olympic sporting events may not create positive political change in China. But the stage and spotlight that they create may do what sport itself can’t.
It’s our responsibility to cover all of that. And we will, with the high journalistic standards of the CBC.
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About the Author
Scott Moore is Executive Director of CBC Sports.
Prior to coming to CBC in 2007, Mr. Moore held various senior positions at CTV, TSN and Sportsnet.
As a producer, his credits include seven Olympic Games, Stanley Cups, Grey Cups, world junior championships, figure skating and auto racing, as well as various news and entertainment specials.
- "You should be hung for treason"
- Monday, June 16, 2008
- It's our duty to shine a light on China
- Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- We love Montreal. We really do.
- Wednesday, April 16, 2008
- Thank You Curling Fans
- Friday, April 11, 2008
- An Open Letter to Curling Fans
- Thursday, April 10, 2008
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