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IOC press freedom mechanism debuts at Rio

The Olympic rings are shown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Olympic rings are shown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

This statement was originally published on cpj.org 3 August 2016.

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the creation of a press freedom complaints mechanism by the International Olympic Committee that will enable journalists covering the organization and staging of the Olympic Games to report a violation of their press freedom. Thousands of journalists are converging on Rio de Janeiro ahead of the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games on Friday.

The IOC plans to use the reporting mechanism - which is available to all journalists, freelance or staff, accredited or unaccredited - to convey verified complaints to the relevant authorities for resolution. It is accessible in English and French.

"Journalists are integral to the success of all international sporting events, and the IOC charter affirms that the IOC must take 'all necessary steps to ensure the fullest coverage' of the games," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "The mechanism is consistent with this obligation, and we urge journalists to use it to its fullest advantage."

The creation of the reporting mechanism follows years of advocacy with the IOC by CPJ and other rights groups to do more to hold host governments accountable for press-freedom abuses that have limited coverage of sensitive issues around the Olympic Games.

CPJ has documented press freedom violations around several Olympic Games. Prior to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, CPJ released a report "Media Suffer Winter Chill in Coverage of Sochi Olympics," describing a pattern of obstruction, intimidation, and harassment that limited coverage of sensitive issues such as labor abuses and environmental damage. In 2008, CPJ documented how China maintained internet censorship and monitored and restricted international as well as domestic media during the Beijing Olympics, concerns that remain as the city prepares to host the 2022 Games.

CPJ met with IOC President Thomas Bach several times to urge the creation of a formal mechanism for responding to complaints from journalists covering the Games. CPJ will assess and provide feedback to the IOC following the 2016 Rio Games.

In addition to using the IOC's mechanism, CPJ encourages journalists to report violations to [email protected]

Bach in 2014 pledged to reform the Olympic movement through the 2020 Olympic Agenda, though human rights groups remain critical of the IOC's human rights record.

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