OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
Chinese security dragged a Dutch reporter away from the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics live on air before the ceremony could start.
During the long-awaited opening of the games in China, NOS Journalist Sjoerd den Daas was confronted by a man wearing a red armband who grabbed him by the shoulders.
Despite attempts to continue his broadcast, Mr. den Daas was pulled away by Chinese security officers, as part of China’s latest strategy to intimidate foreign journalists.
This interruption came from a man dressed in a black jacket with a red sleeve band representing ‘Public Security Volunteers,’ a citizen-led neighborhood watch established to assist police with maintaining order.
No details are available regarding Mr den Daas’ actions that led to the intervention, but NOS later tweeted that he was able to continue his report minutes later.
But observers suspect that media handlers intervened because den Haas was filming in a less-than-photogenic location, a poorly lit street rather than the glamorous Bird’s Nest stadium.
BREAKING: CCP agents pull Dutch reporter away on live TV in Beijing pic.twitter.com/A30eoElIll
— Truckistan Amb. Poso 🏁 (@JackPosobiec) February 4, 2022
It will only serve to tarnish Beijing’s image at the games, with many countries’ leaders boycotting them over the alleged genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Under China’s Zero Covid policy, draconian lockdown measures are also being implemented to prevent the disease from spreading.
The news outlet’s post read: ‘Our correspondent was pulled away from the camera by security guards at 12:00 pm live in the NOS Journaal.
‘Unfortunately, this is increasingly becoming a daily reality for journalists in China. He is fine and was able to finish his story a few minutes later.’
Foreign journalists are ‘facing unprecedented hurdles’ in China, according to the latest Media Freedoms report by The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) last month. This is due to the government’s attempts to block and discredit independent reporting.
This report also includes information on ‘state-backed’ attacks against foreign journalists, namely online trolling campaigns and lawsuit threats.
‘Such campaigns have fostered a growing feeling among the Chinese public that foreign media are the enemy and directly encourage offline violence and harassment of journalists in the field,’ it explained.
The opening ceremony today featured 3,000 performers, which also featured People’s Liberation Army soldiers hoisting the country’s flag while the national anthem played. Chinese President Xi Jinping received a standing ovation as he entered and walked through the crowd.
In the morning, Xi signed a joint document with Putin that criticized US influence on Europe, opposed NATO expansion, and criticized Washington’s ‘negative impact on peace and stability’ in Asia-Pacific, including the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Attendees from the Olympic village have described ‘dystopian’ scenes such as robots sprinkling disinfectant clouds into the air, and barmen in PPE mixing cocktails as Beijing attempts to host a Covid-free Games.
As visible in footage shot inside the Nanshanli Condotel on Thursday, Olympic personnel in light-touch masks mix with hotel staff in specially-made hazmat suits due to concerns that the Olympics could turn into a super-spreader event.
According to a Reuters reporter inside the hotel, the atmosphere is dystopian, with a strong smell of disinfectant because surfaces are sprayed multiple times, and food is brought into hotel rooms in plastic bags.
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) February 4, 2022
About 11,000 guests and athletes attending the Olympics will be exempt from China’s usually-stringent immigration laws, allowing them to enter the country without quarantine provided that they have been fully vaccinated.
They will be confined inside a closed loop for the duration of the event, which starts today and lasts through February 20. This loop is designed to cut them off almost completely from the outside world so that it is impossible for the virus to spread.
Approximately 20,000 local volunteers are also being isolated.
In the “loop” system, competition takes place in three locations about 110 miles apart, Beijing, nearby Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou, which is a bit further away.
All athletes, their teams, and foreign journalists will live in hotels and the Athlete’s Village during the games, with only a handful of PPE-clad staff allowed inside.
The system is comprised of around 70 hotels, with those located in downtown Beijing literally fenced off and guarded by police to prevent people from entering.
The Olympic venues and hotels will be connected by a complex transport system that will carry people between them.
In order to prevent athletes and the general public from mixing, high-speed trains connecting the three competition zones will be separated, while 4,000 buses have been brought in exclusively for guests.
The competition zones are linked by special highway lanes, and locals who stray into them will be fined.
There will be physical separation between the Games participants and the public at each of the venues, including dedicated entrances, exits, and viewing areas.
Anyone who did not receive a vaccination prior to arrival was required to undergo a 21-day isolation period, while any athlete who tested positive upon arrival was also forced to isolate.
In the case of Kim Meylemans, a Belgian skeleton racer forced into isolation after testing positive, the experience was enough to make her give up hope.
After spending three days in isolation in Beijing and following two negative tests, she believes she will now be free to join the rest of the athletes, but instead, she is sent to another facility where she will have to spend another seven days.
Then, Meylemans issued a tearful plea on Instagram, saying she was not sure how much more she could handle before the International Olympic Committee took action.
It appears the 25-year-old is back in an isolation wing of the Olympic Village.