“You mean I can’t make mah tweetz? NOOOOO!”
The best swimmers in the world are in Shanghai for the FINA (Fédération International de Natation) championships. Some of them, like Michael Phelps, were in Beijing for the Olympics. Back then, Facebook and Twitter were allowed.
But then those sites went behind the GFW and now the swimmers can’t keep up with their social networks. Unless they have a VPN, or join Weibo, which a few international swimmers like David Boudia and Tom Daley have done.
To foreigners who have been to China before, this was no big whoop. But to American Aaron Fleshner, it was a complete surprise. “I’ve got a lot of free time now. I’m reading books now,” he said. He had a copy of “The Lightning Thief” with him. Fablists would probably like that story and put a moral at the end.
Being good journalists, the AP asked FINA’s executive director Cornel Marculescu if FINA’s intervened to open Facebook and Twitter for athletes. His response: “If it’s blocked do you think we have the power to change it?”
Contrast that to the International Olympic Committee, who urged China to allow the press to report the Beijing Olympics freely. They also objected to internet censorship, but eventually just went with the flow, agreeing to blocked sites during the Olympics.
By Robert O’Connor