In Qatar, people celebrate their teams at the World Cup - even without masks. In China, on the other hand, very strict corona measures still apply. For this reason, Chinese state television avoids images of maskless people - they fall victim to censorship.
China's state television broadcaster cuts out close-ups of stadium visitors without masks when broadcasting the World Cup games in Qatar. During the preliminary round match between Japan and Costa Rica, CCTV Sports instead showed footage of players and officials or pictures of the stadium, reporters from AFP news agency reported.
Viewers only saw distant shots of the crowd, with individual faces difficult to discern. Overall, fans in the stands were less in the picture on CCTV Sports than when the game was broadcast live on the Douyin portal and other Chinese streaming platforms.
Earlier footage of fans celebrating at the Qatar World Cup had sparked discontent in China, where lockdowns continue to affect millions. China is the last major economy to have a very strict zero-Covid policy. Even small corona outbreaks can lead to lockdowns, even entire cities and business closures, which puts a massive strain on the economy and people's everyday lives.
Recently there had been protests against the rigid measures in several Chinese cities, including in the metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. The apparent censorship of state television could be a response to protests against the Communist Party's zero-Covid strategy.
The protests were triggered by an apartment fire in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region. Ten people were killed and nine others injured on Thursday evening. On social networks, many users blamed the ongoing corona curfews for having hampered the rescue of residents from the fire.
An open letter asking if China was “on the same planet” as Qatar had spread rapidly on WeChat this week before censors removed it from the platform.