German MPs urge TV blackout of Olympic ceremonies

German MPs have called on leading television channels not to screen the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in protest at China's Tibet policy, the Bild newspaper reported Thursday.

“The public broadcasters should send a signal and refuse to give coverage to this propaganda event,” said Kai Wegener, an MP for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.

Green party politician Volker Beck said: “If the human rights situation in Tibet does not improve, the public channels should think about abstaining from screening the festivities.”

A spokesman for ZDF television said at the moment it was not mulling a blackout of the opening ceremony in Beijing in August.

“But we are free to report as we see fit and reserve the right to adjust our plans — as we did with the 2007 Tour de France,” he said.

ARD and ZDF last year stopped live coverage of the cycling tour after a rider failed a doping test.

German reigning Olympic judo champion Yvonne Bonisch told ZDF Tuesday she would boycott the opening ceremony. Bonisch said she would wear a bracelet introduced by top-level German athletes to protest the human rights situation in China and Tibet.

“I want to send a strong signal. I don’t want to participate in the opening ceremony,” said Bonisch, who won the -57kg title in Athens four years ago.

But Bonisch added that a full boycott of the Games “would destroy the dreams of thousands of athletes.”

Merkel will not be at the opening ceremony of the Games but has said she is merely respecting German tradition because the head of government never attends.

The chancellor, who angered Beijing last year by receiving the Dalai Lama, has stressed her belief that there should be no boycott of the Olympics.

“We have not had good experiences with that, whether in Moscow or in Atlanta,” she said at the weekend.


Germany toughens China travel warning over ‘invasive’ Covid tests

Germany has toughened its advisory against travel to China, warning that travellers could be placed under hospital quarantine for weeks upon arrival and subjected to "invasive" medical tests even if they have previously recovered from the coronavirus.

Germany toughens China travel warning over 'invasive' Covid tests
A plane flying from Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

In its latest travel advisory update, the Foreign Ministry said that the stringent measures were imposed on “people cured of Covid-19”, as well as others who test positive for antibodies because of an undetected illness, or others who had arrived on the same flight and who test positive for the coronavirus.

“Medical measures applied by the Chinese side are invasive and include in part daily blood tests and computer scans,” the Foreign Ministry said.

All travellers arriving in China are required to serve a 14-day quarantine at a location determined by the government.

While small children are “as a rule” allowed to spend their quarantine with their parents, those aged 14 years and up can be placed in isolation away from their family.

The Süddeutsche newspaper reported that the ministry had heightened its warning after two German nationals were held in hospital quarantine for several weeks.

Both had recovered from the coronavirus previously and had tested positive for antibodies, added the report, noting that they were nevertheless forced to undergo medical tests.

The newspaper said the Foreign Ministry had filed protests with the Chinese government over how the two Germans were treated.