While the rest of the world is congratulating Japan on winning the bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, China was a step behind after state media mistakenly claimed Istanbul as the host city.
The official Xinhua News Agency handed the summer games bid to Istanbul, and state television ran a headline during a live broadcast saying Tokyo was eliminated.
The confusion was then cleared up, but not after the blunder made its way on print. Tens of thousands of newspapers had to be recalled.
The vice chief editor of the Changsha Evening News, which had put the misleading news into distribution, criticized state media on a post in his Weibo account, saying the newspaper “suffered a huge setback as a result of Xinhua’s mistake.”
Xinhua apparently mistook a vote by the International Olympic Committee, choosing Istanbul over Madrid after a first-round tie. Tokyo was eventually pronounced the winner and the erroneous reports were removed.
“Responsibility is the first priority for media workers. We have to be responsible to the facts, to our readers, and to ourselves. We can’t fool around with the readers just because we are a big newspaper,” the vice chief editor said.
Chinese netizens vented their frustration over the embarrassing slip up, with most of the comments having a political undertone.
“Isn’t this ‘spreading rumors? Isn’t there a serious impact? They [the authorities] arrest [netizens] for ‘spreading rumors,’ regardless of whether or not you apologize. So will the police do anything? Can [the government] ensure equality before the law?” a Weibo user with the name NJ-Peng said.
Others lashed out against Japan amid thorny ties over a territorial dispute.
Tokyo is the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games twice. Japan first held the event in 1964.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image: Jon Curnow/Flickr