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  • Torch Ready for Russia; Sochi Detaining, Deporting Migrant Workers


    Torch's Time in Greece Winds Down

    The Sochi torch relay reaches the Parthenon. (Getty Images)
    The Olympic flame for the Sochi Olympics reached Athens Friday, where it will spend one more day before taking off to Russia.

    Following the September 29 flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame has traveled to all the major cities in Greece, carried by hundreds of Greek torchbearers.

    As is tradition for these Greek relays, whether for summer or winter Olympics, the next to last day for the relay ends at sunset at the Acropolis.

    Saturday evening, leaders of the Sochi 2014 Olympics will receive the flame in a ceremony at the marble stadium built for the 1896 Olympics, first of the modern era. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the top ranking government representative from Russia, will receive the flame from Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos.

    The flame will then be used to light tiny flames in miners lamps which will be transported Sunday to Moscow.

    Sochi Detaining, Expelling Migrant Workers

    Migrant workers in Sochi have faced persecution in recent weeks, the latest in a series of blemishes on Russia's human rights record. (Getty Images)
    A report from Human Rights Watch says Russian authorities in Sochi have detained “hundreds” of migrant workers for alleged violations of migration and employment regulations.

    The report says, beginning last month, Sochi authorities have been raiding workplaces, homes, and public areas in an effort to round up workers. Most of them, it appears, have been targeted due to their “non-Slavic appearance.”

    Many workers were detained in courtyards or overcrowded holding cells. They were reportedly released after several hours, though some have been held for more than a week. Some have been expelled after brief court hearings without lawyers present.

    The detentions continued to occur during the IOC’s final inspection visit at the end of last month.

    “It’s outrageous for the migrant workers who helped to build Sochi’s shiny new Olympic venues to be herded into detention and deported,” said Jane Buchanan, Europe and Central Asia director for HRW. “The IOC needs to send a clear message that these sweeps are completely unacceptable for an Olympic host city.”

    Japan Opens Tokyo 2020 Cabinet Position 

    Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Games. (Getty Images)
    The Japanese government created its office for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Friday. 

    According to a report in The Kyodo News, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was joined by Olympics minister Hakubun Shimomura for the opening of the office. 

    Takeo Hirata, currently a special advisor to the Prime Minister, will reportedly be in charge of the office within the government’s secretariat. 

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference: "We created the office to bring efforts by various agencies together to make the Olympics a success."

    Fete for Rogge

    Headquarters of the Belgian Olympic Committee (ATR)
    Jacques Rogge’s farewell tour continues this weekend.

    The Belgian Olympic Committee (BOIC) will host a dinner for him in Brussels on Saturday, in honor of his time as IOC president. Rogge served as BOIC president from 1989 to 1992.

    Also making the trip to Brussels are new IOC president Thomas Bach and other dignitaries.

    On September 25, Rogge and his wife Anne attended an audience with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium where he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown.

    Written by Ed Hula III and Nick Devlin

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