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  • Olympic Terrorism Risks; IOC Clears Swimmer; More Rio Critics


    04/29/11

    Wikileaks and the Olympics

    U.S. officials were monitoring the 2010 Olympics for serious security threats, the latest batch of documents released to the whistleblower website Wikileaks shows.
    U.S. security officials were expecting the worst during the Vancouver Olympics, but their fears never materialized. (Getty Images)

    According to the documents, “No Olympics-related protests occurred” and U.S. officials expressed confidence in the abilities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other security agencies to handle disruptions.

    Toward the end of the Games, “minor traffic disruptions” were the most severe threat of several monitored protests, all of which failed to materialize.

    Some legitimate threats were discovered, however, but these also turned out to not be true dangers.
     
    A U.S. citizen was found at the border with a grenade but was deported when the FBI interviewed him and determined he was mentally unstable. A prison discussion between two inmates, one “a prisoner of Arab origin” related to a Games-time terror attack. That too was deemed non-credible, and there were some concerns related to a Canadian power plant.

    The cables were sent from the U.S. Embassy in Vancouver to other U.S. diplomatic offices in Canada.

    Before the Games, a U.S. State Department warning was issued to U.S. travelers related to security risks at the Games, specifically from al-Qaeda.

    During the Olympics, a spokesman for the Integrated Security Unit, Vancouver’s Games-time security force, told Around the Rings an attack by al Qaeda during the Vancouver Olympics did not seem to be a top concern.

    “There is no specific threat against the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games” Staff Sgt. Mike Cote said.

    Breaststroke Record-Holder Cleared for 2012

    U.S. swimmer Jessica Hardy will not be kept from the London Olympics by a controversial doping rule that would otherwise make her ineligible.

    The IOC informed the breaststroke world champion last week its so-called “Osaka Rule” will not apply to her despite the one-year ban that sidelined her during Beijing.
    Jessica Hardy holds the 50 m breaststroke world records for both short- and long-course as well as the 100 m breaststroke record for long-course. (Getty Images)

    Hardy tested positive for a low level of clenbuterol, a prohibited anabolic agent, just weeks before the 2008 Summer Games – and not long after the rule that bans athletes from competing at the next Olympics if they receive a suspension longer than six months took effect.

    As a result, the IOC will allow her to swim in 2012, both because of the narrow time frame and because she was not actually disqualified from Beijing. Instead, she withdrew with her case still pending so as to avoid missing out on London.

    "I am ecstatic that the IOC has recognized my unique situation, and that this rule does not apply to me," Hardy said Thursday in a statement released through her lawyer.

    "With this final hurdle now behind me, I can now focus 100 percent of my efforts on preparing for and representing my country at next year's Olympic Games, a lifelong dream that was taken away from me in 2008."

    The initial two-year ban handed down just prior to Beijing was later suspended in May 2009 after the American Arbitration Association discovered that the positive result was caused by a contaminated nutritional supplement. Three months later, Hardy set a new world record in the 50-meter breaststroke upon her return to competition.

    Thursday’s news comes a day after the IOC and U.S. Olympic Committee announced they would both abide by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling with regard to the Osaka Rule, expected in a few months. The USOC has yet to file its petition to CAS.

    Indian NOC Schedules Meeting, No Elections

    The Indian Olympic Association will convene next month for the first time since sacking former president Suresh Kalmadi on the heels of his Monday arrest.
    Suresh Kalmadi headed the Indian Olympic Association for the past 15 years. (ATR)

    The Times of India reports that IOA secretary general Randhir Singh and acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra met Thursday to discuss the national Olympic committee’s future.

    Whether Malhotra will remain in charge after taking over Tuesday from his embattled predecessor remains to be seen.

    Sports minister Ajay Maken is calling for fresh elections at the May 24 executive board meeting, but Malhotra indicates there will be no such votes on the agenda.

    “There are no plans to advance the elections slated for 2012," he was quoted by TOI.

    Malhotra was chosen as acting president at an emergency meeting of roughly 15 IOA members late Tuesday, just hours after Kalmadi appeared in a New Delhi court seeking bail. Instead, he was remanded in custody for eight days for further questioning.

    Central Bureau of Intelligence agents arrested the former Commonwealth Games chief Monday over a $33 million timekeeping contract suspiciously awarded to a Swiss bidder ahead of Delhi 2010.

    Other graft charges brought by the CBI stem from a 2009 ceremony in London to kick off the baton relay through countries of the former British Empire.

    Kalmadi was roundly booed during October’s opening and closing ceremonies as allegations of shoddy construction, graft and financial mismanagement largely overshadowed the two-week mega-event and cast serious doubt over his leadership of the IOA.

    More Rio Housing Critics

    Human rights watchdog Amnesty International added its name to a list of organizations concerned with evictions related to construction for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

    In an interview with Agence France Presse, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general said “forced evictions, it is kind of the other side of the Olympics," adding "nobody denies there is need of infrastructure and reorganization for those projects, the question is how you do it."
    Favelas, among the most dubious landmarks of Rio de Janeiro. (Getty Images)

    On Wednesday, Raquel Rolnik, a human rights official with the United Nations said “I am particularly worried about what seems to be a pattern of lack of transparency, consultation, dialogue, fair negotiation, and participation of the affected communities in processes concerning evictions undertaken or planned in connection with the World Cup and Olympics.”

    Millions live in squalor and poverty in Rio’s slums which are known as favelas.

    Former Brazilia president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva said he wanted the favelas gone by 2016, and his vision was endorsed by the city’s mayor.

    Media Watch

    Play the Game reports on alleged political oppression of Bahraini athletes.

    Written by Ed Hula III and Matthew Grayson.

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