The International Olympics Committee is confident China will offer uncensored internet when it hosts the 2022 Winter Games, Reuters reports, citing a senior IOC official. However, China released no details related to this matter. Free internet is “guaranteed in the bid”, said IOC VP Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. “All the experience that we’ve had with Beijing is that they’ve always delivered on their word. We are confident that will be the case.”
China maintains a tight control over internet services. The government has warned that social media, particularly foreign services, could represent a destabilizing force for Chinese society and even a danger to security. Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook as well as Google’s main search engine and the Gmail service are all inaccessible in China without specialized software to vault what is known as the ‘Great Firewall’.
China promised to provide media with the same freedom to report on the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics as they had at previous Games. However, when the main press center opened, journalists complained of finding access to sites deemed sensitive to China’s communist leadership blocked. A IOC official later admitted that some IOC officials agreed to allow China to block sensitive websites.
According to Zhang Jiandong, a Beijing vice mayor and vice president of the Winter Olympics organizing committee, China has already made commitments to provide an open internet during the bidding process. “During the 2022 Winter Games we will comprehensively open access to the internet for all (internet) customers, including at the competition venues, where athletes stay, and other areas.”