The Chinese government is going to great pains to remove maskless World Cup crowds from its domestic broadcasts of the soccer tournament.
China Central Television, the state-owned broadcaster, is airing games on a 30-second delay so it can scrub most of the crowd shots that show nary a mask in sight and would challenge the government’s zero-COVID policies, according to Fortune Magazine.
The censors are spotlighting images of players, managers and team benches to avoid any alternatives to the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian approach to handling the coronavirus.
Fortune did say some close-up shots are still making it into Chinese broadcasts.
Mark Dreyer, author of the book “Sporting Superpower: An Insider’s View on China’s Quest to Be the Best,” shared a side-by-side of the BBC and CCTV broadcasts during the recent match between Canada and Croatia. BBC watchers saw close-ups of fans, while the CCTV viewers saw a close-up of Canada’s coach.
Some people still refusing to see this, so decided to track it. Within a minute, there was this: close-up shots of Canadian and Croatian fans on BBC/international feed, replaced by a solo shot of Canadian coach John Herdman on CCTV. pic.twitter.com/V3DZRjHrzk</ a>
— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) November 27, 2022
Mr. Dreyer first pointed out that the real-time editing was taking place on Saturday, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper.
“This is amazing,” Mr. Dreyer tweeted. “Due to the backlash from Chinese fans seeing unmasked crowds in Qatar, Chinese TV is now replacing live crowd shots during games and instead cutting to close-ups of players and coaches.”
China has been embroiled in a wave of protests over its strict COVID-19 policies.
The unrest was set off after 10 people were killed in a building fire in Urumqi last week. Those killed were unable to escape due to COVID protocols requiring them to be locked in their units from the outside, according to BuzzFeed.
Protests have spread to major cities in the country, including Beijing and Shanghai, in an apparent boiling over of tensions from China’s snap lockdowns, mandatory masking and general restrictions on movement that are all done in the name of controlling the coronavirus’ spread.