Friday, February 28

China to host 2008 Olympic Games


Controversial selection process ends in final decision from IOC

  The Associated Press A crowd in Beijing July 13
celebrates the announcement that China will host the 2008 Olympics
Games. The International Olympic Committee picked China over bids
from Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka.

By Michaele Turnage
Daily Bruin Senior Staff

After heated controversy over human rights violations, the
International Olympic Committee awarded Beijing, China, the coveted
honor of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games at their meeting in
Moscow Friday.

Beijing won 56 of the IOC secret-ballot votes ““ the clear
majority needed for its election as host city ““ in the second
round of voting while its nearest competitor, Toronto received 22
votes.

The IOC was unable to reach a clear majority in the first round
of voting, so the IOC eliminated the least popular city, Osaka,
Japan, and moved on to a second vote.

Paris and Istanbul, Turkey, were also among the top five cities
considered as possible hosts for the Summer Games of the XXIX
Olympiad in 2008.

“The Chinese Government and people will go all out to
support Beijing … to carry forward the Olympic spirit, promote
world peace and enhance friendship among the peoples of the
world,” said President of the People’s Republic of
China, Jiang Zemin, in a statement to the IOC president.

Yet others are not happy about the decision to award the honor
to China in light of human rights violations.

“There were protesters in Moscow and others who felt that
the games should not go to China because of their abominable human
rights record,” said Dick Schultz, former executive director
of the United States Olympic Committee.

As noted in a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on
International Relations markup, representatives Christopher Cox,
R-Calif. and Tom Lantos, D-Calif., co-sponsored a resolution
condemning Beijing’s bid to host the Summer Games unless
China “releases all political prisoners, ratifies the
international covenant on civil and political rights, and observes
international human rights”.

Although many expressed their discontent with China, Schultz
said that the IOC is not supposed to be a political organization
and thus would not have taken human rights violations into account
when judging the country.

Instead, the IOC considers a candidate’s motivation for
entering a bid, its infrastructure, political and public support,
the environmental impact the games would have, how the city would
finance the games, and how capable the city would be in hosting the
games.

Many applauded the IOC’s action, saying that China’s
time has come.

“I think China is an appropriate host for the
Olympics,” said Richard Baum, a UCLA political science
professor whose area of expertise is in economic and political
reform in post-Mao China.

“Seven to eight years ago when they were a candidate, I
was not supportive because it was shortly after the (1989)
Tiananmen Square incident,” Baum said, noting that news of
that incident left a sour taste in his mouth. “But since 1993
China has made enormous strides in improving its human
rights.”

Beijing came close to winning the bid for the 2000 Summer
Olympic Games, though the city lost in the final round of voting to
Sydney, Australia.

This year’s victory will not only bring China more
attention, but could be the catalyst for sweeping improvements in
the country, according to some.

“It will open China up, and they will do a lot of things
to improve their infrastructure,” Schultz said.

China plans on providing 37 new venues for the 2008 Summer
Olympics in addition to 400 new bus routes.

Many agreed that the watchful eye of the international community
could force China to change for the better.

“They’ll be under world scrutiny so hopefully their
human rights and environmental record will improve and China will
be a much better country all the way around because of it,”
Schultz said.

With reports from Scott Schultz and Cuauhtemoc Ortega, Daily Bruin
Senior Staff.


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