China censors World Cup matches to remove shots of maskless crowd

Chinese state television has censored FIFA World Cup matches to remove shots of maskless crowd after the sight of joyous fans celebrating in packed stadia stoked anger back home, where hundreds of millions remain under strict pandemic restrictions, according to a media report.

A well-attended opening ceremony in Doha – with no social distancing – led to users of Chinese social media platforms complaining that it contrasted with the severe isolation they felt under President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy, The Guardian reported.

Chinese netizens said it was “weird” to see hundreds of thousands of people gathering in a carnival-like atmosphere while they were still forced to live under a draconian system that most other countries have long abandoned, the report said.

Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider blog, noticed that games broadcast on the state-owned channel, China Central Television (CCTV), were being edited to avoid live shots of cheering crowd and instead show closeu-ps of the players and coaches.

“Of course, there are going to be times when you still see crowd shots – wider shots, after some goals when a cutaway shot would be too jarring etc. But there is clear reduction,” Dreyer wrote on Twitter.

Broadcasters at sporting tournaments are typically given the option by organisers to choose their own camera angles, and can set a delay so that the game can be edited quickly before the public sees it.

Dreyer, the author of ‘Sporting Superpower: An Insider’s View on China’s Quest to Be the Best’, said such “pre-emptive censorship” was not a new policy for Beijing.

“Chinese broadcasters are notoriously cautious of crowd shots at international sporting events because of what might be seen – like Tibetan flags, for example,” he said, The Guardian reported.




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