THE BLOG
09/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Insight into IOC Thinking: Its 2007 Beijing Briefing on Major Communications Issues

I've blogged about the substantial dustup in late July, 2008, between the IOC and BOCOG over censorship of the Internet, but I left out one tidbit.

Things surface in these moments of revelation and debate. One of the most interesting documents to appear during the blogosphere brouhaha was this internal IOC document dated August 3, 2007 called "Beijing Briefing Kit: One-Year-to-Go Countdown Resource."

The document was obtained and made available by the German public service broadcaster, Südwestrundfunk. I came across it on the website of Play the Game for Open Journalism, a site focused on providing assistance for journalists covering the Beijing Games.

The document is useful to anyone interested in strategic communication, in the IOC and the media, and in understanding how the IOC saw the gathering action of NGOs. It suggests what issues should be considered "risk areas" for the IOC and the Beijing Games and how to field questions about them.

There are Frequently Asked Questions about the following subjects:
Social and Political Issues, Chinese and Sudanese Relations, Bilateral Relations and Torch Relay, Freedom of Speech and Media, Religious Freedom, Air Quality and Health Risks, Environment Business Issues and Ethics, Ethically-Sourced Olympic-Branded Goods and questions Related to Olympic Athletes.

From the "Freedom of Speech and Media" section:

How can the Olympic Movement, which depends on journalists to generate interest in host countries before and during the Olympic Games, select a country like China which exerts oppressive rule over local journalists and limits foreign coverage as well?

Whilst we cannot put pressure on the Chinese government on laws that specifically affect its citizens, we have hope that this initial step will have similar benefits for Chinese journalists.

With one year left until the opening ceremony, we are hopeful it will continue to improve so that all the press in Beijing can show the world not only a great Games but help them learn more about China.

Do you think China will really allow foreign media to freely report as they wish during the 2008 Games?

BOCOG has stated publicly that journalists will be able to operate as in previous Olympic Games. We have no reason to believe that this will not be the case in 2008. At the World Press Briefing and a World Broadcasters Meeting the BOCOG President, Liu Qi, again addressed this issue.

The Director's Letter that introduces the briefing kit references its NGO-related report: "Another addition to this kit is a special report on NGO activities, which is gathered on a regular basis within our crisis communications planning. We thought you would find it useful to have a picture of what organisations and media are planning at the one-year-to-go mark and in the coming months. Within the NGO section you will also see the IOC's standard reply letter to organisations that approach us on China-related issues."

In its "Response Letter to NGO on China-related issues," the IOC writes:

The IOC believes that organised sport can help bring positive developments from within Olympic Games host countries. We take a patient and quiet approach based on our Olympic values, in partnership with Olympic Games Organising Committees. We are proud of what this achieves, knowing from our past experiences that this approach brings results. Any expectations that the IOC should apply pressure on the government of any of our future host cities are misplaced, especially when they concern sovereign matters outside of the IOC's mandate.

We understand that you would like to see further progress in China more quickly. We believe, however, that the Beijing Olympic Games are an opportunity to open a new door to China to benefit its citizens and its relationships with other nations. An open-door approach in principle is something that the IOC trusts will have benefits to future Olympic Games long after closing ceremonies.

While some organisations and observers question China's ability to meet its obligations related to the Beijing Olympic Games, we think that it is premature and inaccurate to state that China has failed to live up to its pledges to the IOC.

Read more HuffPost coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games