Olympic Flameout?

A Pakistani man looks at the washed away Coastal Highway hit by powerful Cyclone Yemyin at Aghor Tuesday, June 26, 2007. Yemyin lashed Pakistan's southern coast, killing at least 14 people, leaving dozens more missing and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. Yemyin barreled in three days after another violent storm killed at least 235 people in Karachi and sparsely-populated Baluchistan province. ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Across all Beijing, it was New Year's Eve and the Super Bowl all in one. A party the likes of which this city has never seen before.

Beijing tried for the Olympics once before, but lost to Australia because of concerns over human rights, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen. China's victory may be in part because the International Olympic Committee decided human rights would no longer be a deciding factor this time around.

But one day after the Chinese promised press freedom in reporting from this country as a key part of their bid, CBS News got a taste of a very different and very repressive reality.

We were attempting to satellite from Beijing pictures showing members of the banned Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong committing suicide.

Here's what happened to our satellite: Chinese censors pulled the plug, saying that on this night, their instructions were that no such pictures would be allowed from Beijing — a chilling taste of what the world's media may well face covering the Olympics, and no surprise to China's skeptics.

"Press freedom is probably the single most important aspect of a free society. There is no press freedom in China," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.

U.S. critics might be surprised to learn that several companies, among them some of America's biggest, backed up Beijing's bid with $20 million.

Paying for things like a slick video with the idea being: what's good for Beijing is good for business -- American business.

"We really think it's good for everybody," said Emory Williams, Jr. of the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.

Meanwhile, for athletes who focus on sport, not politics, Beijing's win creates a new goal.

"Competing in our home country is our dream, it will make me work a lot harder," said Tian Liang, a Chinese diver who won gold in Australia.

The win gives China a new and prestigious place on the world stage. In a country famous for superstition, Friday the 13th turned out to be China's lucky day. But maybe not such a lucky day for the foreign press.



©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter