Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

For ARD team chief Christoph Netzel, the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing are the so far “complicated games at all”. ZDF sport boss Thomas Fuhrmann sees before the opening ceremony on Friday in the Chinese capital “not only a challenge, but a whole mountain of challenges”.

Not only the public broadcasters had to be logistically, organizational and journalistic exceptional tasks before games in Corona times in China. “Corona and China – the two CS have been extremely difficult in combination in planning and preparation,” says Netzel, the ARD team boss from Bayerische Rundfunk.

Small teams, supported by foreign correspondence

ARD and ZDF are with smaller teams as usual in Beijing and on the other competitions, supported by their foreign correspondents and correspondents in China. For the first time, the ARD / ZDF Olympia studio is not in the venue, but in the common National Broadcast Center on the ZDF site Mainz.

“We try to report to China as authentically. Our local team is considerably smaller,” says Fuhrmann. But without reporters there it does not go. “It is journalistic necessary to send colleagues to them. For result reporting and for the background.”

Only half a year ago had taken place in Tokyo the first Olympic Games under Pandemic Conditions. But Beijing is something completely different. “This is not comparable to the production conditions under which we have to work in China now,” says Fuhrmann, who was on site in Tokyo and also travels to Beijing.

Background coverage difficult

Especially the reporting, which goes beyond the purely sporty, will be difficult in China. In the 2021 ranking of the freedom of the press of the organization “reporters without limits”, China ranks 177th place – of 180 nations. Human rights violations, the surveillance, threats against Taiwan and the occurrence in Hong Kong make the emerging world power a highly problematic host for Olympia.

“In his coverage, ZDF will also cover the political situation in China and the effects of the Olympic Games,” says ZDF editor-in-chief Peter Frey the claim of the broadcasters. This program philosophy also represent the ARD, emphasizes Netzel.

When leaving the bubble wait 21 days quarantine

The fulfillment of this claim will not be easy. The strict corona requirements and the no-Covid strategy seem a welcome justification means for the Chinese organizers and rulers to keep an eye on the grief media representatives from all over the world. “We rely on the commitment of the IOC to report freely, to have free access to the Internet, to the sports facilities and the athletes,” says Fuhrmann.

The vehicles are provided with drivers so we do not drive out at a wrong exit.

ARD team boss Christoph Netzel

The journalists are not allowed to move freely in the country. They stay like the athletes and other persons approved at Olympia in a bubble. Who leaves this, must be in quarantine for 21 days. Even if you are going to the bubble, the festival of foreign correspondents are allowed to leave them without three-week quarantine.

“We do not fool ourselves: with what we have on specifications, we can not move freely,” says Netzel. “Through the so-called work quarantine, we can only move between the hotel and workplace, for example to the competition sites.”

Just four vehicles are ready

According to Netzel, ARD and ZDF have just received four vehicles together. “The vehicles will be provided with drivers so we can not drive out at a wrong exit,” he says. “Of course this is also a clear limitation of our freedom of movement, especially with regard to reporting beyond sport.”

Since it is called “to research on other ways, in other ways to get information,” says the ARD man. “But topics that are considered critically outside the Olympic bubble and are arranged journalistic, are extremely difficult in research and implementation.” Therefore, topics such as human rights violations and framework conditions have been prepared in advance.

But at ARD and ZDF, after opening the games next Friday, all critical views on the difficult host is also about the sport. “Olympia is the big stage of athletes and athletes, and it is also the time of great emotions that the many winter sports fans are welcomed to us,” says Netzel.

The topic: The schedule of games in Beijing

By Kevin D

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