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  • IOC President – Olympics Teaches China About the World


    08/24/08

    Rogge: “The IOC is extremely pleased by the organization of these Games.” (ATR)
     (ATR) IOC President Jacques Rogge says the biggest legacy of the Olympics in Beijing may be the way the Games have help China and the rest of the world know each other better.

    “Through the Games, China has been scrutinized by world, opened up to the world. The world has learned [about] China and China has learned about the world. I believe this is something that will have positive effects for the long term,” Rogge said at a press conference on the final day of the Games.

    Rogge said that the IOC is “extremely pleased by the organization of these Games”.

    “BOCOG has really put the athletes in the center of these Games,” he said, praising a “splendid village”, “state of the art venues” and “impeccable operation”. He noted that TV ratings for the Olympics were up to 20 to 30 percent in most markets around the globe.

    On the sports side he said more than 40 world records and 120 Olympic records had been set at the Games, and declared Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt as the “icons of the Games”.

    Taking 30 minutes of questions, the IOC President commented about the size of the Beijing Olympics, human rights issues and press freedoms, doping and some his favorite moments at the Games.

    Gigantism at the Olympics

    Responding to a query about the number of athletes at the Games, nearly 1,000 more than the IOC cap of 10,500, Rogge said that wild card spots in athletics and swimming are the culprit for the number creep.

    “We are very keen on keeping the number to 10,500,” said Rogge. He says discussions with FINA and the IAAF will be taking place. “This is not an issue which will last for the future,” he said, indicating that London would not have to deal with an explosion of athletes in 2012.

    “We’ll make sure it remains at 10,500 athletes”.

    Doping Being Deterred

    Rogge says the rise in doping cases at the Games appears to have been stopped in Beijing. As of Sunday, only six cases had been reported, though testing of results from the end of last week has not been completed.

    “It has become more difficult to cheat, because we have augmented the number of tests from 3,500 in Athens to 4,500 now. Secondly, we have also increased the penalties. You know the new rule that an athlete that has been penalized for more than six months by his or her federation will not be allowed to participate in the next Games. I believe this is a major deterrent effect.”

    Rogge also mentioned that 39 positive tests of athletes bound for the Games were uncovered in the month before Beijing.

    Wushu Still Sneaks In

    Despite the IOC rejecting plans to include the martial art of wushu in the Beijing Olympics, IOC President Rogge
    About 300 journalists covered the IOC president’s final press conference. (ATR)
    still turned up to award medals at a competition staged on the side of the Games.

    The competition included the look of the Beijing Olympics, without the Olympic rings, athletes stayed in the Olympic Village and information about the event was posted on the official Info 2008 terminals that served media the Olympics.

    “China has requested and made big efforts to include wushu in the Olympic program,” said Rogge. While rejecting the sport for the Games, Rogge said the IOC did agree to include it as part of the cultural program for the Games.

    “There was not a single word Olympic, there were no rings. The medals that were awarded were of a totally different model. The athletes have not paraded,” he said about the event.

    “We considered this a cultural manifestation,” he said, without responding to a question as to whether organizers of future Games would be able to try this same stunt with other
    Rogge says improvement to air quality in Beijing is one of the key legacies of the Games. (ATR)
    sports not on the program.

    Empty Words on Internet, Protests?

    Asked whether the IOC had been handed “empty words” from China on the matter of open access to internet sites and the establishment of protest zones, for which nobody received a permit, Rogge admitted the issues had not been dealt with fully.

    “We acknowledge that the situation has not been perfect,” he said about the internet, but adding that the moves to unblock some sites “was a major change” for China.

    “We believe that the Games have been a good influence on that”.

    On the question of protest zones, Rogge said the IOC alerted Beijing to the “best practices” followed by organizers of past Games where such zones were established. He said Beijing never promised to create protest zones nor is it a requirement of the host city contract. There were 76 applications for protests; none was approved.

    “We found it unusual that none of these applications have come to real protests. We have inquired with the authorities, who said the protests and qualms of the citizens have been met in mutual agreement.

    In the matter of two elderly women who have been sentenced to a year of at-home “re-education” for seeking a protest permit, Rogge said that the IOC had inquired about the case and been told that the women are subject to Chinese law.

    Favorite Moments from Beijing

    “If I had a story to tell it definitely would be the hug and embrace the Georgia and Russian athletes on the podium two days after there had been violent clashes in Georgia,” said Rogge about his favorite moments from the Games.

    “I think this kind of sportsmanship and fair play and brotherhood is remarkable,” he said.

    Written by
    Ed Hula

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