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  • On the Scene in Beijing -- Beijing Obstructs Tibetan Reporter, First Gold for India


    08/12/08

    Tibetan Reporter Barred from Olympics

    A Tibetan-born correspondent for Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-based radio station critical of China,
    Jill Ku Martin of Radio Free Asia pressed BOCOG to issue the accreditation to her colleague at the Tuesday press briefing. (ATR)
    is barred from the Olympics.

    RFA had applied for two media credentials for the Olympics. Jill Ku Martin, chief correspondent for the Mandarin Service of Radio Free Asia, received her accreditation only the night before the opening ceremony Aug. 7.

    But her colleague Dhondup Gonsar, who is of Tibetan descent and broadcasts in the Tibetan language on RFA, is currently in Hong Kong awaiting his accreditation which acts as a visa.

    BOCOG has yet to issue the credential even though the IOC has approved the application. A decision is pending, Chinese organizers say.

    The IOC’s director of communications Giselle Davies confirms Tuesday that the issue has been raised with BOCOG.

    The radio station, a non-profit organization sponsored by the U.S. Congress, broadcasts within China from Washington D.C. through shortwave and the internet. Its mission statement “is to provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press and those in other undemocratic Asian states”.

    Asked why she thought BOCOG has yet to issue a visa to her colleague, Ku Martin says: “We can only speculate. My colleague is of Tibetan descent and he works for the Tibetan service in our organization and broadcasts in Tibetan.”

    “The major event was the opening and we were too late for that. We still have many events to cover. I hope my colleague will still get it,” she told reporters.

    Ku Martin says RFA’s signal is “constantly jammed” in China, not just during the Olympics, and its website is often inaccessible.

    Indian Gold Medal a First

    Abhinav Bindra of India reacts to his gold medal result. (Getty Images)
    A nation of a billion people finally has an individual Olympic gold medalist. India’s Abhinav Bindra won the men's 10-meter air rifle title Monday at the Beijing shooting range. Prior to Beijing, Indian athletes had managed to win just four medals in the 80 years the country has competed at the Games, all in field hockey.

    Crowds Will Come Promises BOCOG

    Wang concedes there are not enough people visiting the Olympic common domain. He says about 40,000 people visited the Olympic Green Aug. 11.

    “We are concerned about these not full stadiums,” he told a press briefing Tuesday.
    Volunteers take seats at a beach volleyball preliminary. (Getty Images)


    Restating his remarks of two days ago, he insists crowds have stayed away due to the poor weather, while Olympic Family guests are not taking up some seats reserved for the preliminary rounds.

    He insists BOCOG is renewing efforts to lift attendances and encourage more Beijing citizens to visit the Olympic Green.

    Wang also defends the deployment of groups of volunteers as cheerleaders in some venues, filling seats that would otherwise be empty. He says they are there “to create a good atmosphere for competition”. Dressed in yellow shirts, they are easily identified at venues.

    The cheerleaders were a conspicuous presence at the China versus USA women’s basketball match at Wukesong Sports Center Monday night.

    Ticket Scalping Concerns

    BOCOG says it will investigate reports of ticket touting outside one of the Olympic Green entrances.

    Chinese and foreign ticket touts were said to be operating freely around gate 25 Monday, selling tickets for sports such as volleyball, fencing and swimming at inflated prices.

    Wang admits he is unaware of a ticket touting problem, saying BOCOG has strict measures in place to prevent it. “Scalping is prohibited by Chinese law. We will look into this to see whether it is true or not.”

    “If we know about it, we are going to do something about it.”

    Fake Firework Images at Opening Ceremony

    The countdown section of the Olympics opening ceremony which depicted fireworks in the shape of footsteps appearing in sequence across Beijing leading to the Bird’s Nest stadium included pre-recorded film, BOCOG admits.

    “Previously recorded footage was provided to the broadcasters for convenience to provide theatrical effect,” Wang says.

    While there were actual footprint fireworks exploding to the north and south of the city, some pre-recorded footage “may have been used”, he says.

    According to the Beijing Times, computer graphics of the footprints were inserted into coverage. It reported that animators had gone to the extent of getting weather information to recreate the night-time smog and camera shake to simulate filming from a helicopter.

    "let it out: the movie" premiere

    Some of the United States' greatest Olympics triumphs were relived Monday as USA House played host to the world premiere of "let it out: the movie." Sponsored by Kleenex, the film features athletic greats such as Mia Hamm, Michael Johnson and Mary Lou Retton. The Olympians share their memories not just of their own triumphs, but of watching others succeed. The stories were combined with historical footage dating back to Jesse Owens' triumph in Berlin in 1936. Told entirely through the eyes of athletes, their families and friends, "let it out: the movie" opens in 25 cities across the U.S. beginning August 13. Details can be found on http://www.letitout.com.

    Where’s Jacques?

    IOC President Jacques Rogge visits the wrestling venue Tuesday. Men's Greco-Roman 55 and 60 kg competition and medal rounds are underway at the CAU Gymnasium.

    Beijing by the Numbers

    The IOC says about 1,500 doping tests have so far been carried out at the Olympics. This includes pre- and post-competition blood and urine tests.

    Weather Report

    Blue skies and warm breezes gave athletes competing on day four of the Beijing
    Sunny weather came to Beijing for the first time during the Games. (ATR)
    Olympics the best weather yet.

    The fine weather comes after three days of wet and cloudy conditions. The Olympic flame burning on the Bird’s Nest was nearly obscured by thick smog Sunday when thunderstorms lashed the hub of Games action.

    Light winds in Qingdao, venue for sailing, may affect some events Tuesday, says BOCOG’s executive vice-president Wang Wei. In Hong Kong, it is cloudy with showers forecast.

    Celebration of the life of Steve Parry

    London 2012, the IOC and Reuters would like to invite friends and colleagues of Steve Parry to join them in celebrating his life, so sadly cut short by illness on the eve of the Beijing Games. The event takes place in the lobby bar area of the Intercontinental Hotel (at the end of the MPC) at 7pm on Wednesday. Drinks and light refreshments will be available.

    Written by Mark Bisson in Beijing

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