SBD/Issue 136/Olympics

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  • Growing Storm: Rogge Expresses Deep Concern Over Tibet

    Rogge Expresses Concern Over
    China's Handling Of Tibet Situation
    IOC President Jacques Rogge today in Beijing said he was "very concerned with the international situation and what's happening in Tibet,'' according to the AP's Stephen Wade. Rogge said the Olympic torch relay has been targeted and said the IOC has "expressed its serious concern and calls for a rapid peaceful resolution in Tibet." Wade notes while Rogge "downplayed talk of a boycott" of the Games, his comments were his "strongest yet on the growing political storm surrounding the Games" (AP, 4/7).

    GAG ORDER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Stacy Meichtry reports the IOC “has sent a memo to its members, advising them on how to respond to media scrutiny of China’s human-rights record -- and reminding athletes that any ‘provocative political or religious expression’” during this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games “will be punished.” In an internal memo, the IOC “reiterates its opposition to taking any public stance on Chinese policies, describing them as ‘sovereign matters outside of our mandate.’” Rogge in a cover letter refers IOC members to a memo of “message points and frequently asked questions” prepared by the IOC PR staff. Rogge also encourages members to “coordinate any response” with the committee. Attached to Rogge’s letter is an eight-page "briefing kit," whose existence was made public by Reporters Without Borders. The document notes national Olympic committees are expected to send to the Games athletes who are “in compliance with the Olympic Charter” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7). ESPN's Len Elmore said, "China shouldn't receive a pass because they're a world economic superpower, guaranteed to generate billions for the Games. The IOC should allow the athletes, as world citizens, the freedom to speak their minds about current events. ... Making billions is not necessarily immoral, unless it's done without a social conscience'' ("The Sports Reporters'', ESPN, 4/6).

    Protestors Out In Full Force For
    Beijing Olympics Torch Relay In Paris
    RELAY PROTESTS: The Beijing Olympic torch relay arrived in Paris today, and a group of French Olympic athletes "want to wear a badge marked 'For a better world,' in response to events in Tibet and the question of human rights in China" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7). Security officials in Paris have "extinguished the Olympic torch for a second time" and placed it on a bus after protesters "booed and began chanting 'Tibet'" (AP, 4/7). Meanwhile, in London, Ashling O'Connor writes the relay yesterday was "reduced to farce and ignominy" as protests "disrupted the London leg of the tour." More than 35 protesters were arrested "in a series of clashes with the police, who had to reroute part of the procession to protect the 80 runners" (LONDON TIMES 4/7). Chinese relay organizers reportedly "came within minutes of cancelling it halfway through" yesterday's parade (London TELEGRAPH, 4/7). The torch was so "shielded … by police in fluorescent coats that the Olympic flame and torchbearers were all but invisible" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 4/6). During the "Weekend News Update'' segment of NBC's "Saturday Night Live'' this weekend, cast member Amy Poehler reported, "The Olympic torch arrived in Beijing Monday where it immediately suffered an asthma attack and died'' ("SNL,'' NBC, 4/5).

    OFF COURSE:  BRAND REPUBLIC's Stephen Foster writes, "It's clear that the planned leisurely stroll around the globe for the Olympic torch will have to be revised radically" (BRANDREPUBLIC.com, 4/7). In London, Simon Barnes writes the relay was a "showcase all right, but not for the glory of China. Rather it was a showcase for pro-Tibet protesters" (LONDON TIMES, 4/7). A London TELEGRAPH editorial states, "The progress of the torch through London hardly reflected the Olympic values" (London TELEGRAPH, 4/7).

    PUBLIC OPINION: A CP Harris-Decima survey found that 57% of Canadian respondents “wanted Canada to protest somehow while still allowing athletes to compete.” Only 20% said that Canada “should not lodge any protest whatsoever over Chinese crackdowns in Tibet.” Meanwhile, 13% “would see a full boycott” (CP, 4/5). In L.A., Murphy & Baum write under the header, “In Europe, Many Seek To Rebuke China At Beijing Olympics.” Nearly 60% of respondents to a recent newspaper survey in Switzerland “favored a boycott of the opening ceremonies, though the same percentage wanted Swiss athletes to participate in the Games.” In Denmark, a poll showed “half the public wanted to boycott the ceremonies, while in France, 53% in a poll wanted to boycott the Games” (L.A. TIMES, 4/7).

    BOYCOTT: In San Diego, Lionel Van Deerlin wrote there “must be ways other than an outright boycott by which the United States and other participants could make clear their disapproval of China’s violence against Tibet.” Van Deerlin: “One step that comes to mind would be for President Bush to stay home. Our Olympic team would suffer no diminution of speed and strength if this nation’s top leader were to decline the well-guarded grandstand seat reserved for him within smiling distance of China’s new warlords” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/3). In London, Rob Hughes wrote, “Only if the Games became so tainted that the likes of Coca Cola, Samsung, or NBC America television felt that to go with Beijing would bring a mass boycott of their product would there be any boycott of the Games, other than by individuals. Boycotts fail” (LONDON TIMES, 4/6).

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