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  • IOC Ups Donation for Quake Relief, No Winter Youth Games Shortlist


    IOC communications chief Giselle Davies faced more questions about internet censorship for journalists covering the Olympics in her first meeting with the press in Beijing. (ATR)
    IOC Urges BOCOG to Open More Websites

    The IOC denies suggestions that it has reneged on a pledge to provide uncensored internet access for journalists covering the Beijing Olympics.

    "You shouldn’t see it that way at all," the IOC’s director of communications Giselle Davies told a press briefing Saturday following a meeting of the Executive Board. The briefing was the first time Davies has had to face the press in Beijing since the controversy over website access erupted this week.

    "It should be stressed that what we would like to see as for all host cities is that media have the access needed, including for the internet, so that you can do your work according to the same standards as you have seen in past Games."

    Davies says the IOC is continuing to encourage the hosts to move in the right direction to provide the widest internet access possible.

    But some reporters are interpreting the IOC instruction as a climbdown on the issue. IOC president Jacques Rogge has always insisted that international media would not face internet restrictions in reporting the Games.

    IOC member Hein Verbruggen, chair of the Beijing 2008 IOC coordination commission, and Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli met with BOCOG officials and Chinese authorities late Thursday to resolve the internet access problems.

    But with just six days until the Games open, the issue is not going away.

    Although the Amnesty International website and the BBC’s Chinese language site are now open, BOCOG has not responded to an IOC request to improve the situation and provide unfettered internet access.

    Politically sensitive sites relating to the Free Tibet campaign and other anti-China sites remain blocked Saturday.

    Davies also defended BOCOG's arrangement to restrict live broadcasting from Tiananmen Square to just six hours a day, despite calls from Olympic broadcasters to provide unfettered access to the square. The schedule in place effectively rules out prime time broadcasts for most of Europe.

    "With regards to access around the city we do feel that has been addressed. Live broadcasts are allowed from Tiananmen Square just within certain time limits to allow for VIP visits and so on."

    BOCOG says the square must remain accessible to stage presidential visits during the Games and also for the thousands of tourists expected to flock to the iconic landmark.

    "I think we have to understand that there have been some great moves towards openness and transparency," Davies said in her conclusions at the press briefing.

    Four Candidate Cities for 2012 YOG

    The IOC Executive Board chose not to reduce the field of four cities in the race to host to the 2012 Youth Olympic Games. It means Harbin, China; Innsbruck, Austria; Kuopio, Finland; and Lillehammer, Norway progress from the applicant stage to become candidate cities.

    "We are very pleased to have four excellent shortlisted candidates for the first Winter YOG," IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a statement Saturday.

    The decision
    Lillehammer, host of the 1994 Winter Olympics is one of the four cities bidding for the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012.
    was made following an evaluation report of the cities' initial bid dossiers conducted by a panel of IOC experts.

    The four bids will now be assessed by an IOC Evaluation Commission to be appointed shortly by Rogge. Its report will go before the IOC Executive Board in November. The board recommends which candidate cities will be submitted to the IOC members for election as host city in a postal vote, with the result announced in December.

    The 2012 YOG brings together around 1,000 athletes aged 14-18 years who will take part in all seven sports on the Winter Olympic program.

    Singapore YOG Village Plan Shelved

    Organizers of the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games have scrapped plans to build a new Olympic Village for the inaugural event.

    Only last month Goh Kee Nguan, CEO of the organizing committee, told Around the Rings that initial work on the $423 million athletes' village at the National University of Singapore was progressing well.

    But the building project was clearly
    SYOGOC chair and IOC member from Singapore Ser Miang Ng says the NTU campus will make an outstanding Games village. (ATR)
    a challenge too far for the YOG 2010 organizers who face a tight timetable to organize the Games. The YOG opens in a little over two years time.

    The IOC Executive Board on Saturday ratified the change of plan to site the athletes’ village at the existing Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus.

    In a statement, the IOC said the change was due to the global surge in construction activities and costs of building materials which would have affected the construction of the NUS U-Town.

    The NTU campus was identified as the alternative site for the the athletes’ village in the Singapore bid. The IOC said this choice will still meet all necessary requirements and is consistent with its instructions to keep the costs of organizing the YOG at a reasonable level.

    "SYOGOC will continue to work closely with the IOC to ensure that the YOG participants will have their needs well met in comfortable facilities that will provide a memorable living and learning experience during their stay in Singapore in August 2010," said SYOGOC chair Ser Miang Ng in a statement.

    About 3,200 athletes aged 14-18 years will compete in the 26 sports on the 2012 Olympic program.

    IOC Ups Earthquake Donation

    The IOC donates another $4 million for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

    BOCOG and the Chinese Olympic Committee are also giving $2 million each to aid the redevelopment of sporting infrastructure in the region.

    IOC president Jacques Rogge joined representatives of BOCOG and the Chinese NOC for a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Saturday.

    The IOC previously donated $1 million in the immediate aftermath of the quake to help with disaster relief work.

    Written by Mark Bisson.

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