China censors maskless bulk material in World Cup broadcasts | China

Chinese state television has censored World Cup matches to remove footage of maskless crowds after the sight of joyful fans partying in packed stadiums fueled anger at home, where hundreds of millions remain under strict pandemic restrictions.

A well-attended opening ceremony in Qatar — without social distancing — prompted users of Chinese social media platforms to complain that it contrasted with the stark isolation they felt under President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy .

Chinese netizens said it was “weird” to see hundreds of thousands of people gathering in a carnival-like atmosphere while still being forced to live under a draconian regime that most other countries have long since abandoned.

That’s great. Due to backlash from Chinese fans seeing unmasked crowds in Qatar, Chinese television is now replacing live footage of spectators during matches, instead cropping to close-ups of players and coaches.

— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) November 27, 2022

The official newspaper of the Global Times accepted Some fans “decided to watch the games at home with their families” due to Covid restrictions which have stopped people from gathering to watch the tournament.

Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider Blognoted that matches broadcast on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) were edited to avoid live footage of cheering crowds and instead show close-ups of the players and coaches.

“Obviously there will be times when you’ll still see shots coming from the crowd — wider shots, after a few goals, when a cutaway shot would be too shrill, etc.,” Dreyer said wrote on Twitter. “But there is a significant reduction.”

Broadcasters at sports tournaments are usually given the ability by the organizers to choose their own camera angles and can set a delay so the game can be edited quickly before the public sees it.

Dreyer, the author of Sporting Superpower: An Insider’s View on China’s Quest to Be the Best, said such “preventive censorship” is not a new policy for Beijing. “Chinese broadcasters are notoriously wary of mass footage at international sporting events because you might see something – like Tibetan flags,” he said.

The Fifa World Cup has come at a particularly explosive time for China, just weeks after Xi secured a historic third term. The number of coronavirus cases has hit record highs, fueling even more lockdowns in cities across the country. Beijing has defended its policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

But in the last few days Hundreds of protesters and police officers have clashed in Shanghai about the restrictions. Such a wave of civil disobedience has been rare in mainland China over the past decade, and Xi has cracked down on any public display of dissent.

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