China Accused of Altering World Cup Broadcast to Hide Maskless Fans

A Canadian fan, left, celebrates on international broadcast while Canadian coach John Herdman, right, is seen on Chinese TV.

China has been accused of censoring maskless fans at the World Cup on state TV to maintain the illusion that the country’s strict zero-COVID rules aren’t dissimilar from the outside world.

As protestors have taken to the streets in Beijing and Shanghai to condemn President Xi Jinping’s harsh COVID lockdown restrictions, social media users castigated the state broadcaster CCTV for allegedly obscuring the fact many countries have moved away from stringent COVID rules.

Broadcasts of the World Cup from Qatar tend to feature fans cheering from the stands to emphasize the atmosphere. However, China’s state-owned broadcaster appears to be doing just the opposite with the camera glued to the field or the coaches.

The World Cup is popular in China with The Washington Post reporting that it draws more than half a billion viewers. However, it has come at an awkward time for censors in Beijing as people are fed up with constant lockdowns.

Bill Birtles from the Australian Broadcasting Corp tweeted out a video of two broadcasts from the same World Cup game: Croatia versus Canada. One was on Australian station SBS and one on CCTV.

The CCTV feed has a 32-second delay so when Croatia scores on SBS, the camera shows unmasked Croatian fans celebrating in the stands. However, the same goal on CCTV instead cuts to a gleeful Croatian manager.

A similar example was tweeted out by Chinese sports expert Mark Dreyer of a Canadian goal.

Earlier this week, PetaPixel reported on senior BBC cameraman Edward Lawrence being arrested and beaten up while covering anti-lockdown protests in China.