Günter Nooke: ‘Establish legal security for athletes in Beijing’ | Press Releases | DW | 02.06.2008
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Press Releases

Günter Nooke: ‘Establish legal security for athletes in Beijing’

The Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office dicusses current issues at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn.


Press conference at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum.

With regards to the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, the German Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Günter Nooke called to “establish legal security for athletes”. At the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, Nooke emphasized “that the guidelines that have applied up until now haven’t ensured this security and that a gray area exists.” He said that we shouldn’t “criminalize” athletes who voice themselves politically in Beijing. But Nooke qualified that by saying “it isn’t the athlete’s responsibility to be a human rights activist.” He furthered that by stating we should accept an athlete’s non-political mindset.

In light of the 25,000 media representatives who will be in Beijing, Valentin Schmidt, the Sport Representative for the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), said that he hopes “the journalists don’t just keep their eyes on the track, but also examine the circumstances in the country.” He went on to say that sport is a fundamental reason for people from different backgrounds to engage in dialogue. Schmidt is convinced that due to the awarding of the Olympic Games, “the violation of human rights – no matter where in the world – is coming more and more into focus.” He went on to say that through the “globalization of the media”, reporting about human rights violations has become especially effective.

Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann then pointed out that the human rights situation and the limited freedom of the press was already known when Beijing won the Olympic bid back in 2001. “Tibet didn’t just appear out of nowhere,” said Bettermann with respect to the “international outcry” following the events in Tibet. He said that international broadcasters can expand the informational offer in China – even using internal procedures. Bettermann explained that Deutsche Welle has been trying for many years to convince the Chinese authorities to grant a license to DW-TV. And DW-WORLD.DE continues to be censored. He hopes “that the Olympic Games will invoke more equanimity in Chinese leaders.” The fact that DW-TV is among the few programs that will be fed into the Olympic Village “could be a sign of things to come.”

June 2, 2008