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2012 Olympics blind eye on Beijing abuse

Despite the constant flow of reports from China of human rights abuses, evictions, beatings, arrests and the imprisonment of protesters in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games Britain’s political and sports elites continue to fawn over the Beijing Olympics. Whereas the United States and the EU, along with human rights organisations, are reported to be protesting at the arrest of a prominent human rights activist, Hu Jia, the Chinese Xinhua Agency (see below) is delighted to be able to report the enthusiastic support offered by the likes of Coe, Brown and Livingstone.

According to Xinhua Coe was full of praise for Beijing’s preparations for its Games, preparations which include the eviction of some 1.5 million residents, while Brown was ‘very excited by what he saw’ when he visited Beijing. No doubt this mainly consisted of shiny new buildings. The British Olympic Association has, of course, also preferred to look the other way threatening any British athlete, unlikely though this is, who chooses to express dissent about such unsporting behaviour as the abuse of human rights, with instant dismissal from the team. This in the land which prides itself on its attachment to freedom of expression and fair play!

Xinhua goes on to quote Coe as saying he wants athletics to be ‘preeminent’ in British schools and to increase the budget for athletics. Here he enters the realms of delusion as, of course, his own pet project is at present stripping children’s grassroots sport of hundreds of millions of pounds of Lottery money which is being diverted to the elite Olympic event. Britain’s Olympic elite wishes to hear, see and speak no evil about abuses being perpetrated in Beijing so it is hardly surprising their own Olympic event is suffering from such a severe lack of self-critical capacity.

Julian Cheyne 2008-01-26 09:57:49

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- London Olympics chief said on Friday that he expects the Beijing Games to be a "fantastic" event.
"It is going to be a fantastic games. We all are very excited about it," said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games (LOCOG)..
"Prime Minister Gordon Brown had just returned from Beijing, and he was very excited by what he saw in Beijing," the former two-time Olympic champion told Xinhua at the Davos World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.
Coe and London Mayor Ken Livingstone were in Davos to give a reception about the London Olympic Games Friday night.
Speaking of Beijing's preparations for the Games, Coe said it has done very successfully "both in infrastructure and the response to being the host city of an Olympic Games."
In particular, he said the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) had done "a first-rate job" in working out Olympic cultural and educational programs. "I think it is a view shared around the world," he added.
With the Beijing Games only six months away, Coe said that like London, a city of a big size such as Beijing faces a tough challenge of transport during the Games.
The staging of Olympic Games is probably the most complex piece of management a city faces, he said, adding that the LOCOG would send an observe team to Beijing to learn from its handling of transport planning, security checks and management of competition sites.
Noting there is close cooperation between BOCOG and LOCOG, Coe said a creative team is keeping contact with Beijing to make most of the 8-minute handover ceremony to showcase London.
Coe, a former world record holder and two-time 1500-meter Olympic champion in 1980 and 1984, declined to predict how many medals the British team would win in Beijing, but said it was normal for any country to place high expectations on its own athletes.
He said it was not so important of winning how many medals or who would get No. 1 on the medal table. What is important is to watch the fierce competition, such as the battle between Olympic 110-meter hurdle champion Liu Xiang and his main rivals, he added.
Once the Beijing Games are over, London will be immediately in the spotlight. "We are on schedule with our construction programs."
"We have started a national program under which we want the games to be a part of east London. And as chairman of the organizing committee, I can tell you that in our own preparations and planning we are exactly at where we want to be," he said.
Coe, whose fame and charm had probably helped London win the bid, said it is "a huge privilege" to be chairman of LOCOG.
He said public support for the London Games are high, as "well over two-thirds regularly say they want to be part of the Games, want to be volunteers, and want their children to get involved."
Meanwhile, as vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Coe said Asia will be one of the major growing areas in athletics over the next few years with many top-level meets to be held.
Besides the Beijing Olympic Games, the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics will be held in Daegu, South Korea in 2011, and the Commonwealth Games will be held in New Delhi, India in 2010.
"To improve athletics levels, there are two things," he said. "One is to make sure that athletics are preeminent in schools so we have a program to focus on young athletes, and the second is to increase budget for athletics."

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