Chinese state broadcaster censors Paralympic official’s speech

Xi Jinping
Associated Press-Andy Wong
Associated Press-Andy Wong

A Chinese state broadcaster on Friday appeared to censor a Paralympic official’s speech at the opening ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic Games, during which he called for peace amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons’s remarks at the start of the event were not translated by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

The remarks were later muffled, and a signing interpreter stopped translating Parsons’s speech on screen, according to CNN.

Parsons, a Brazilian, said that he was “horrified” with the events taking place in the world at the moment. 

“Tonight I want — I must — begin with a message of peace,” he said in English while addressing officials including Chinese President Xi Jinping. “As the leader of our organization, with inclusion at its core, where diversity is celebrated and differences embraced, I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now. The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy and way and hate!”

The committee’s president went on to explain that the Olympic truce during both the Olympic and Paralympic games is recognized by the U.N. by over 100 countries. This truce, he said, “must be respected.”

China, an ally of Russia, took action in order to block anti-war sentiment about the conflict, according to the Journal. 

The Chinese government has been known to censor social media and television broadcasting in the past. 

Parsons’s remarks come after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 with the help of Belarus, just four days after the 2022 Winter Olympic Games ended in Beijing. Since then, the country has mounted a full-scale attack on the former Soviet country, a conflict that has been condemned by dozens of countries internationally. 

The IPC on Thursday announced that it would not permit Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the Paralympic Games. In his announcement of the ban, Parsons stated that normally, the IPC believes “firmly” that politics and athletics should not mix. 

“However, by no fault of its own, the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes, many Governments are having an influence on our cherished event,” Parsons said.

“In order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus. To the Para athletes from the impacted countries, we are very sorry that you are affected by the decisions your governments took last week in breaching the Olympic Truce.  You are victims of your governments’ actions,” he added. 

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