The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Site Moved

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Olympic Catalyst for Abuse

Amnesty International has issued a report warning that as China prepares to host the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the preparations are in fact acting as a "catalyst" for worsening abuses of human rights.

Amnesty notes that there is now an extensive use of detention-without-trial by police, and an increase in the persecution of civil-rights activists.

Amnesty also notes that new methods are being deployed to rein in the domestic media and censor the internet.

They ask that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should raise the issue with the Chinese government.

"The IOC cannot want an Olympics that is tainted with human rights abuses....the Olympics is apparently acting as a catalyst to extend the use of detention without trial".

China has not yet responded to the report. However, in the past it has stated that it is fulfilling all the commitments made in its bid for the games and has accused Amnesty of being biased against the Chinese government.

Giselle Davies, an IOC spokeswoman, said that the governing body would "want to take the time to digest it before making any further reaction".

Amnesty may do well to remember that the pace of economic and social change in China needs to be managed with care, lest there be a total fragmentation of society. To blame the Olympics for everything that Amnesty disapproves of is maybe far too simplistic.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Make It Rain

It is estimated that there is a 50/50 chance of it raining on the opening day of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and a further 50/50 chance of it raining on the closing day.

China does not intend to take any chances with the weather, and is going to attempt to make it rain in the period before the games; thus reducing the chances of precipitation on the opening and closing days. Rain will also help clean up the air, in one of Asia most polluted atmospheres.

Chinese meteorologists believe that they can force rain in the days before the Olympics, via the unreliable "science" of cloud-seeding.

Good luck.

New Look

Welcome to the redesigned and improved Olympics site.

To view the Olympics archives pre May 2007, please visit the Olympics Archives.

This site was established in 2004.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Olympic Protesters Detained

Three Americans and a Tibetan-American were detained by Chinese authorities on Mount Everest yesterday, as they called for independence for Tibet and protested against the Beijing Olympics.

The protest was organised by Students for a Free Tibet, which said three people were detained for holding up a banner at a base camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain that read:

One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008.

The fourth person detained by Chinese authorities was a camera person.

"One World, One Dream" is the slogan of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Torch To Ascend Everest

The Olympic torch for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will ascend to the top of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, and pass through Taiwan according to the organising committee.

Wang Wei, executive vice-president and secretary-general of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said that the torch would cross Mount Everest.

Wang also said Taiwan had agreed that the island would be on the Olympic torch relay programme.

Taiwan had previously indicated that it was not agreeable to the torch entering the island via China's mainland or Hong Kong and Macao, which are special administrative regions of China.

Wang said the route of the relay was still under discussion with interested cities.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Olympics Threat To The Arts

The London Olympics juggernaut has been accused of crushing funding to the arts. A grouping of the UK's senior arts and sports administrators warned that the lottery money being diverted from the arts to the Olympics would damage the arts, and reduce participation in sport.

The Voluntary Arts Network, the Central Council for Physical Recreation, Heritage Link and the National Council for Voluntary organisations have also written to MP's; warning them that lottery cuts will jeopardise the legacy of the games at community level. They have asked for an urgent meeting with Tessa Jowell (culture secretary), claiming that arts, heritage and sports charities will lose more than £100m.

Jowell intends to divert an additional £675m from the National Lottery, to fund the Olympics behemoth (the budget for which has spiralled out of control).

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said:

"There is a spectacular lack of logic in using money earmarked for the arts to plug the holes in the Olympics bills. The money raided from the lottery will largely affect small, innovative, experimental organisations and individuals who are the lifeblood of creativity in the UK. Pulling the carpet out from under them and nobbling their money is undermining the future of our major arts institutions."

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Central Council for Physical Recreation, said:

"If there is to be a real legacy of increasing participation in sport, it seems ironic, if not perverse, for money to be taken away from community sport to fund the Olympics."

Jowell claims that the diversion of funds will not begin until 2009; a cynic might note that by 2009 Labour will have been kicked out of office, and can therefore wash their hands of the entire sorry affair.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

China's One Ticket Policy

The 7 million tickets for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are now available for purchase. However, because of China's massive population of 1.3BN, tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies will be limited to only one per person.

Only 25% of the 7 million tickets for sale are available to non residents of China.

The most expensive tickets will be for the opening ceremony on August 8th 2008, which will cost $645. The cheapest tickets for that event will be $26.

Ticket prices for the closing ceremony will range from $19.40 to $390.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chinese Ban Chinglish

In the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Chinese authorities are trying to crack down on "Chinglish" a mangled version of English that is often seen on notices and used by taxi drivers.

One example being this billboard sign:

"Shangri-La is in you mind, but your Buffalo is not."

The Chinese are conscious of the fact that around 500,000 foreign visitors will come to Beijing next year, and the Chinese want to give a good impression.

Liu Yang, head of the "Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program" for the city government, said that 6,500 "standardised" English language signs were put up last year on Beijing roads.

However, it is evident that the private sector is not following the rules.

Liu told journalists:

"We will pass the message on to authorities in the advertising sector. If English translation is needed it must be subject to the standards set forth in the regulations.

In the future when we set up new signs in public places in English, we hope all these standards will be followed to avoid more additional mistakes

Liu said Beijing taxi drivers have to pass an English test to keep their licenses. However, as I can attest having been in Beijing a few weeks ago not all of the drivers have such a great command of English.

Liu is quoted as saying:

"The taxi training courses are not working effectively, and there is a problem of taxi drivers missing classes. Taxi drivers need to get their licenses renewed every year, and an English test is now part of that exam. But the exam is not so difficult.

Some taxi drivers do speak some English, and that's a big change from the past.

But the overall level still needs to improve. Some taxi drivers speak no English; they understand no English

However, there is nothing to stop the foreign guest trying to learn Chinese.