An incident involving a Dutch reporter in the middle of a live broadcast who was dragged away by Chinese security officials was an isolated event and will not affect foreign media’s reporting at the Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Saturday.
The journalist, Sjoerd den Daas, was delivering his live report to public broadcaster NOS on Friday evening during the Games opening ceremony in the Chinese capital when security officials surrounded him and one forcefully dragged him away.
Another security officer attempted to hold his hand in front of the camera as the reporter tried to continue speaking to it.
The broadcaster had to interrupt the link with the reporter, leaving the studio anchor back in the Netherlands confused.
“Obviously, we have been in touch with the NOS, the state broadcaster, and it was an unfortunate circumstance,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said.
“I think someone was being overzealous. He (the reporter) was able to, very quickly afterwards with the help of officials there, do his piece to camera.”
Games participants, including media, are restricted to a “closed loop” during the Games, which includes the venues, the media centre and the accommodation.
All participants must remain in that loop for the entire duration of the Games as part of China’s health measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus spread during the Feb. 4-20 Games.
NOS said there had been no contact with the IOC.
“Neither NOS management, nor the chief editors of News and Sport, our Olympic team leadership in Beijing, or our correspondent himself has spoken to anyone from the IOC about yesterday’s incident,” an NOS spokesperson said.
Den Daas, the broadcaster’s China correspondent, said it was not the first time this had happened to him.
“In recent weeks, we, like several foreign colleagues, have been hindered or stopped several times by the police while reporting on subjects related to the Games,” he said on Twitter.
There have been concerns over whether visiting media will be allowed to do their jobs freely in China during the Games.
But the IOC has repeatedly assured them that the contract signed with the Chinese hosts would allow every participant, including athletes and media, to speak freely within the loop.
“These things do happen and I think it’s a one-off. I hope it’s a one-off and we will assure you that within the closed loop you will be able to carry on your work,” Adams said. [Reuters]