Did China blur World Cup crowds to hide maskless fans?

China’s zero-COVID policy has been marked by protracted lockdowns and rigorous public health effortsincluding mandatory face masks, even as the rest of the world has eased such restrictions.

Known as “Dynamic Zero COVID,” the approach has kept deaths low but at the expense of its economy, with recently reported discontent spreading across the country

Since the start of the World Cup, rumors have circulated that maskless viewers and uninhibited fan celebrations have been “blurred” from broadcasts of the competition on Chinese state television to quell domestic frustration.

Wales fans in Doha, Qatar
Wales fans react during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Images of the grandstands were reportedly blurred on Chinese state television to hide the lack of face masks in the crowd
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The claim

A tweetPosted on November 23, 2022 by the @WallStreetSILver account, claimed that “Chinese media” unsettled viewers at the FIFA World Cup because “they don’t want the Chinese to know that people in other countries don’t wear masks anymore.” ..”

The claim and accompanying video were divided by other users, including Igor Sushko, executive director of the Wind of Change Research Group, a Washington-based nonprofit.

The facts

The tweet about censorship of World Cup games has received tens of thousands of engagements since it was first published.

The claim was repeated on CNBC’s Squawk Box; Beijing bureau chief Eunice Yoon said that the World Cup audience is “blurry…because they’re not wearing masks” and that “over the past few days during the World Cup, people here on social media have been asking and complaining about like people outside of China don’t seem to be wearing masks.”

“So interesting that we’re starting to see the audience getting blurry,” she added.

The claim was not supported by any evidence beyond Yoon’s account.

news week has not been able to independently verify or locate the source of the “blurry” video. But based on other information shared online and on social media, it appears that China is not censoring its World Cup streams, at least not on all of its state television services.

Multiple Twitter user answered to the allegation about censorship, question its authenticity with screenshots and other streams showing games broadcast without censorship.

Full streams available on Weibo also show no such censorship, nor does there appear to be any censorship on Chinese social media platform Douyin (whose subsidiary is owned by the Chinese government).

The effect in the video shared on Twitter is also not consistent. At a point where the camera zooms in on a goal celebration, the background of the spectators is briefly blurred.

Chinese state news outlets have also not censored photos of bystanders, further weakening claims that the government is trying to hide the move away from Covid restrictions around the world.

While it is possible to smear a live game (particularly in China, where delays in television broadcasts have been used to ensure censorship efforts) and therefore the underlying claim cannot be dismissed as false, there is ample evidence to undermine the notion of a systematic attempt to censor football coverage.

The effect mentioned in the tweet could have been applied to post-game coverage, but could also be the product of digital editing added to broadcast footage before it was released.

Regardless, Newsweek was unable to verify why the blur effect was applied and by whom. Even if government sensors were involved, hiding maskless viewers could be just one of several explanations — Fuchs, for example, could also be about copyright concerns or broadcasting permits.

So there’s still a chance that games may have been censored based on the evidence we’ve seen news week With uncensored matches on Chinese state television, Chinese social media and other Chinese media, it seems unlikely that the Chinese government would censor World Cup footage on its broadcasts.

news week reached out to CNBC for comment.

The regulation



While it’s entirely possible that Chinese state television may have blurred World Cup match footage, news week could not verify the authenticity of the viral video used to promote this claim.

In addition, there are several examples, including state television clips and screenshots, that indicate programs that have not been censored.

There are also regular broadcasts on Chinese social media and articles in state-run newspapers that clearly show viewers what seems to contradict the narrative of alleged attempts to hide the lack of Covid restrictions in other countries.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Checking Team

https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-did-china-blur-out-world-cup-crowds-hide-maskless-fans-1762414 Did China blur World Cup crowds to hide maskless fans?

Rick Schindler

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