The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Friday, September 29, 2006

China Curtails Media Freedoms

China, earlier this week in Beijing, unveiled its plans for the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Liu Qi, mayor of Beijing and president of the organising Committee BOCOG, and Sun Weijia, Olympics Press Chief revealed that China would ban material about human rights violations.

A list of banned items was also produced, which may not be brought into China, including "print products and CD-ROMs which are harmful to China's politics, economy and culture."

Needless to say, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) press commission chief, Kevan Gosper, has asked journalists "to respect the conditions and rules" in place in China.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said:

"The IOC's infamous pledge that giving the Games to China would improve the human rights situation there in the run up to the 2008 Games is in ruins.

In 2002 Jacques Rogge said he would act if China failed to protect rights to his satisfaction in the run up to the Games. Instead, Mr Gosper's latest statement suggests the IOC is colluding with China in preventing journalists from covering China's ongoing and serious human rights violations in China and Tibet, a key component of the overall coverage of the Beijing 2008 Games.

It is particularly damaging that the IOC should encourage journalists to censor themselves precisely at the time when China is cracking down on the ability of domestic and foreign journalists to report sensitive news in China

The Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing has received reports of 72 incidents of harassment of journalists from 15 countries, over the last year.

Notwithstanding the above, it is safe to assume that the IOC will not act to destabilise the 2008 Games, so long as they get the sponsorship deals.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Olympic Expulsions

It is reported that China intends to expel migrant workers during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Needless to say, the Chinese authorities have denied this report and have "spun" the denial by saying that Beijing is looking into how to keep the "mentally ill" from "damaging the public interest" during the games.

That's an interesting way of denying the story.

This story comes amidst promises from China that hosting the Olympics will improve respect for human rights.

The Beijing Morning Post raised the expulsion issue earlier this month, by saying that many of the 1 million migrant workers in Beijing from other parts of China would be expelled before the games.

Zhou Jidong, head of Beijing's legal department, denied it and said in relation to the mentally ill issue:

"We are now studying the issue.

The city government plans to ask the municipal (council) to make a law about psychiatric health regulations aimed at providing mental health treatment and preventing mentally ill people from damaging the public interest

The IOC will of course not intervene in this, as long as they make a good living from the sponsorship deals that the Olympics brings in.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Amnesty Question China's Human Rights

Amnesty International claim that China's human rights record, in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has deteriorated.

Amnesty allege that thousands of people are being executed after unfair trials.

Amnesty have sent their findings to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and said that Chinese authorities would have to act quickly if they were to fulfill their pledges to improve human rights.

Catherine Baber, of Amnesty, said:

"The serious human rights abuses that continue to be reported every day across the country fly in the face of the promises the Chinese government made when it was bidding for the Olympics.

Gleaming stadiums and spectacular parades will be worthless if journalists and human rights activists cannot speak out freely, if people are still being tortured in prison or if the government continues its secrecy about the thousands of people executed

There has been a renewed crackdown on journalists and Internet users in the past year, according to Amnesty. Amnesty are of the opinion that the promises made for media freedom are false.

Amnesty also said that activists, including those working with residents forcibly evicted from buildings on Olympic construction sites, have been harassed and imprisoned.

Corinna-Barbara Francis, a China researcher for Amnesty International said:

"We try to remain optimistic but right now we are concerned as we are not seeing the progress we had hoped for.

China is a growing world power. They are more in the spotlight.

But we have certainly been disappointed given the expectations we had and the promises made by the Chinese authorities

I guarantee that no matter what Amnesty say, the IOC will go ahead with the games in China; far too much money is at stake, for issues such as freedom to get in the way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Living Wage

What constitutes a living wage?

The campaigners for a Living Wage say that it is £7.05 per hour, and claim that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have reneged on a deal with the London Citizens Alliance to offer that rate (or the equivalent) during the London Olympics 2012.

ODA claim that it has stood by the deal in which it promised to encourage contractors to pay a living wage.

The ODA agreement said:

"We recognise the contribution that the London living wage can play in enabling us to deliver our regenerative aspirations.

We will monitor whether this is delivered

The campaigners for a "living wage" will stage a protest outside of the London Chamber of Commerce in the City.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Drug Free Olympics

China is pulling out all the stops to crack down on an endemic drug problem, that is gripping the nightclubs and bars of Beijing and other major cities.

Ecstasy use is now rife in clubs and bars, and the Chinese authorities want to be rid of the problem of "recreational drugs" by the time the 2008 Olympics are under way in Beijing.

As such club and bar owners are being trained to look out for drug use, ectasy is known as the "head shaking" drug, by videos and lectures.

Now if only the athletes competing in the Games could be made drug free as well, then the Olympics might actually gain some credibility.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Forecasting The 2008 Beijing Olympics

It is reported that China is working on improving its weather forecasting systems, in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It is even speculated that there will be a separate forecast for every street in Beijing, when the Summer Games open in 2008.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Definition of Freedom

In an earlier article on this site a few days ago, I noted that Tessa Jowell (Britain's Olympics Minister) when visiting Beijing gushed that she had received a positive response when she raised the issue of press freedom with her counterpart Mr Liu.


"He gave me a clear assurance that he would support unimpeded movement of accredited and non-accredited journalists to report not just on the Games but on China."

Seemingly she was talking bollocks.

Beijing activists are up in arms about China's proposed new controls on foreign news agencies, which give the government's Xinhua News Agency control over distribution within China of news, information and other services from foreign agencies. Xinhua said it would delete items deemed to violate national unity or social stability.

These new controls quite clearly fly in the face of what Jowell was claiming only a few days ago.

Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, said in a statement:

"These measures are an authoritarian attempt to control news and information dissemination and the access of China's users to uncensored news and information."

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement:

"These new regulations on the distribution of foreign news are a step backward."

Hom said that the new regulations would deprive Chinese society of information needed to address corruption and social problems.

A Paris based group, Reporters Without Borders, said that the regulations might violate China's commitments to the World Trade Organisation.

The European Union said that it would take them up at human rights talks with China in October.

So much for the words and promises of Jowell!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shortage of Olympic Doctors

Despite the fact that the 2012 London Olympics are still 6 years away, doctors are warning that the UK has too few specialist doctors in sports and exercise medicine to be able to cope with the injuries that could occur at the 2012 Olympics.

Charles Galasko, of the Royal College of Physicians, said that 30 specialists would be needed. Currently there are only 3 specialists in the UK at the moment.

It seems that whilst doctors in other specialist fields, such as orthopaedics, treat sports injuries, they do not have the all-round expertise needed.


"The orthopaedic surgeon can deal with the ankle injury but would not necessarily be in a position to deal with an abdominal injury that may have occurred at the same time."

I am sure that this is an unnecessary concern, as the competitors will doubtless bring their own specialists with them in their entourages.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Press Freedom At The 2008 Olympics

The Beijing 2008 Olympics organisers have promised that the media will be allowed to move freely around China.

That at least is what Britain's minister for culture media and sport, Tessa Jowell, is saying.

The promise has been given by Liu Qi, the head of the organising committee. In the event that the promise is honoured, it would mean a drastic change in the current restrictions imposed on journalists in China. Correspondents are frequently detained by police, and sent back to Beijing when they try to cover sensitive stories in the provinces.

Jowell, who is visiting Beijing as UK Olympic minister, claims that she received a positive response when she raised the issue with her counterpart, Mr Liu.


"He gave me a clear assurance that he would support unimpeded movement of accredited and non-accredited journalists to report not just on the Games but on China."

As with all political promises, parts of it are unclear; eg whether this new openness would apply only for the duration of the Olympics, or be permanent.

Jowell went on to say:

"I believe that once we establish freedom in this way, even after the delegates and the athletes have gone home, China won't reverse it and the Games will have a lasting legacy of opening China to the world."

The proof of the pudding, as the old saying goes, is in the eating.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Bird's Nest Ready

China has completed the stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The Bird's Nest can hold 91,000 spectators, and is made of approximately 22 miles of unwrapped steel, weighing 42,000 tons, that has been welded into a crisscross shape to resemble twigs in a bird's nest.

It measures approximately 1,052 ft. long by 731 ft. wide by 226 ft. high.

It was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron with the assistance of Ai Weiwei, one of China's leading modern artists.

The cost was around $500M.