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  • On the Scene in Beijing -- Detention Questions at Press Conference, Sailing Gold for China, Drug Test for Heptathlete


    Two Women Allegedly Detained

    BOCOG says it will investigate reports that two elderly Chinese women who applied to demonstrate at official Olympic protest zones have been ordered to serve one year each of re-education through labor.

    BOCOG VP Wang Wei expressed disbelief about reports of potential demonstrators being sent for re-education through labor. (ATR)
    “I don’t believe it’s true because I think there must be some other reasons behind it if they are detained and to be re-educated for a year,” Wang Wei, executive vice president of BOCOG, told reporters Wednesday.

    “If they are just sending petitions to protest it is not possible for them to be detained, that is my understanding,” he said. “I will ask about it, but it is not my obligation to do so, and see if I can get an answer.”

    Human Rights in China reported that Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, who were forcibly evicted from their Beijing homes in 2001, applied five times for permits to protest at one of the three specially designated protest zones in Beijing.

    The group said the women were questioned for 10 hours and then sentenced to one year of "Re-education Through Labour.” The women have not yet been sent to a labor camp but their movements are said to be restricted.

    The Human Rights in China Web site was blocked to reporters working in the Main Press Center Wednesday.
    The IOC’s Communications Director Giselle Davies told reporters she was not aware of the Human Rights in China report but would look into the matter.
    Highlighting the catalytic effect of the Olympics on positive developments in China, she said: “The Games themselves cannot be a cure for all the challenges, cannot be a panacea for all the ills.”

    State media reported Monday that city authorities have not approved any of the 77 applications they received involving 149 people

    Meanwhile, five American blogger-activists and a foreign artist were reportedly detained in Beijing Tuesday, according to Students for a Free Tibet. The rights group said authorities arrested the self-styled "citizen journalists" who were in Beijing to promote Tibetan freedom.

    China Wins First Sailing Gold

    A windsurfer born in
    Fans cheer Yin Jian as she wins China's first sailing gold. (ATR)
    the mountains of Sichuan province wins the first gold medal in sailing for China. Yin Jian, who turns 30 this year, took the women’s wind surfing title in Qingdao.

    Yin, the silver medalist in the event at the Athens Olympics, credits her preparation and the support of family for her success in a sport that is new to China. She also says she has had to battle against injuries from head to toe.

    Acupuncture and massage has been part of her post-race therapy in the past week of competition.

    “I have never been complacent, never been arrogant. I kept holding on until the very last moment of competition,” Yin said about her will to win, speaking through an interpreter at a press conference following her victory.

    Ukrainian Under Investigation for Doping

    IAAF President Lamine Diack had expected to face questions about doping in athletics at a press conference Wednesday, but was surprised to learn
    Liudmyla Blonska runs the heptathlon 800m. (Getty Images)
    of a positive drug test just before the Bird’s Nest briefing.

    Earlier in the day, the IOC began the disciplinary procedure against Ukrainian silver medalist Lyudmila Blonska, who finished second in the heptathlon behind fellow Ukrainian Nataliia Dobrynska.

    IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch informed the IAAF of the test result.

    Diack stated the procedure is underway to test the B sample, followed by a hearing.

    Blonska served a doping suspension between 2003 and 2005. If guilty of a second offense, she could face a lifetime ban.

    Blonska, 30, is also in the long jump, and was third in qualifying. The final is Friday, but she could be expelled from the Games before she returns to the runway.

    Hyleas Fountain of the U.S. would move up to silver if Blonska is stripped of the medal and Russia's Tatiana Chernova would get the bronze.

    Four athletes have been thrown out of the Games so far for positive drug tests - Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do.

    IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies confirmed 4,133 doping tests had been conducted by Aug. 19, including more than 3,290 urine controls and 840 blood screenings.

    The IOC disciplinary commission and executive board are expected to rule on Blonska’s case Thursday.
    The men take to the air in quarterfinals. (Getty Images)

    BMX Makes Impact in Beijing

    BMX made a dramatic debut in the Olympics Wednesday. Riders on the specially-designed bikes whizzed around the Laoshan BMX venue at high speeds in a series of thrilling races.

    The BMX riders soared off jumps and skidded around banked turns in the action-packed races that last less than 40 seconds. Loud rock music provided the backdrop to the spectacle.

    The IOC hopes the event will widen the appeal of the Olympics to the younger generation. Two gold medals are awarded in the men’s and women’s competition Thursday.

    Mayor of London Heads to Beijing
    London mayor Boris Johnson presided at the opening of the Redbridge Cycling Centre in London -- set to be an Olympic legacy -- earlier this week. (Getty Images)

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson jetted out of the British capital Wednesday for a five-day stay in Beijing. He plays a key role in the handover ceremony Sunday when he will accept the Olympic flag from Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong.

    While in Beijing, Johnson will attend a series of meetings to promote London, attract investment and strengthen trade links, as well as to learn important lessons about hosting the Games in 2012.

    Johnson meets the Mayor of Beijing Thursday and tours the Olympic Village Friday. A meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge, IOC coordination commission chair Denis Oswald and LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe is scheduled for Saturday.

    “I am honored to be representing London and the UK at Beijing 2008 as we accept the baton and start the sprint towards the finish line of London 2012,” Johnson said in a statement Wednesday.

    The Olympic handover segment is due to begin at the Bird’s Nest stadium at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 24.

    First for Bahrain

    Rashid Ramzi won Bahrain’s first Olympic medal after out-sprinting the pack to clinch the men’s 1500-meter title Tuesday.

    “I think that in Bahrain, my country, people are very happy. The first contact came from His Royal Highness [the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa].

    “It’s a very small country and it’s a huge honor to win a gold medal.”

    Record Gold Haul for Britain

    Britain's 16 golds so far make the Beijing Games its best overseas Olympic performance. It surpasses the previous haul outside the U.K. - 14 golds at Paris in 1900 and Antwerp in 1920. At the 1908 London Olympics, Britain notched 55 gold medals.
    Where’s Jacques?

    IOC President Jacques Rogge is back in Beijing after brief stops in Hong Kong and Qingdao. On Wednesday, he visited the Fengtai Sports Center Softball Field and also spent time at the Olympic village.

    Beijing by the Numbers

    BOCOG reports that there have been 36 world records and 34 Olympic records broken at the Games, as of Aug. 19. Forty-one countries and regions have bagged gold medals; a total of 75 countries and regions have won medals.

    Written by Mark Bisson in Beijing

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