Phoning It In is what sailing journalists in Qingdao will face this summer if recently proposed rules for telecommunications are enacted by the Chinese. Apparently fearful of espionage, Chinese Olympic officials are threatening to ban laptops, PDAs, Blackberries and all other forms of digital communication devices from incoming foreign press for the Olympics.
'They're not just going to scan my harddrive for naughty photos, as I expected to happen, they're threatening to confiscate my laptop at the airport and not ever return it' said one outraged SINS (Society of International Nautical Scribes) member. 'How in hell's name am I supposed to file stories?'
'We are very concerned about the corrupting influence of Western internet culture on the citizenry of China' said China 2008 spokesman Goesuk Egs. 'There are also some concerns about coaches accessing weather information and transmitting that somehow to athletes on the sailing courses, which we simply cannot allow.'
One famed journalist is more sanguine about the proposed restrictions. Bob Fisher told Scuttlebutt Europe that while he would deem the loss of his laptop an inconvenience, 'During the First and Second World Wars I would just telegraph or phone in reports, when fax's became available in the 80s it was a huge time saver. Instead of reading off the reports we'd scrawled on cocktail napkins we could just feed them into the machine and let the editors decipher them. Tried and tested technology, that.
There won't be any wind or racing to report in from Qingdao anyway, I've got my entire 'Lack of Wind Cancels Sailing at 2008 Olympics' report already written...'