link to the English-language official Chinese 2008 Olympics website
The 2008 Olympics watch on Virtual-China.org officially begins now. Yes, we’re a bit late to the game (see more on years of efforts here), but our focus will, of course, be how 2008 plays out in virtual China, both in Chinese and in English.
A few things we can already say for sure: There will be an explosion of blog posts written by foreign journalists and tourists, adding to the virtual view of China in non-Chinese languages; there will be an explosion of Chinese chatter on the BBS, much of it proud much of it even nationalistic; there will be photo ops and tours and carefully manicured experiences manufactured for the press and tourists; there will be plenty of unscripted encounters between first-time visitors to China and genuinely welcoming Chinese residents which will be blogged and posted and captured on film; and of course, there will be the athletes and competitions themselves, partly experienced via online access of both foreign and Chinese TV broadcasts by audiences around the world. [related update: see recent news on Chinese p2p tech company Mysee and Shanghai Media Group providing streaming feeds of the 2006 World Cup.]
What would be new and possibly groundbreaking: Chinese blogging and BBS posting in English and Chinese on their encounters with foreign media and visitors, a kind of citizen diplomacy that could feed new voices back into the whole heavily mediated extravaganza.
In the meantime: George Lessard on the Chinese Internet Research listserv points out a Guardian article (caveat: there’s a horrendous registration process to view) on what will sure to be a major part of the story and experience of the 2008 Beijing Olympics: the press and the Chinese government.
The Committee to Protect Journalists encouraged the International Olympic Committee to raise the issue of how “free” the foreign press will be in reporting during the games. The IOC did raise the issue, apparently, receiving the standard bland answer from Liu Qi, Beijing’s chief organizer, followed by the take-it-all-back statement: “…just as everywhere else reporters would have to abide by local law.”