SBD/Issue 142/Olympics

Internal Memo Indicates IOC Bracing For Torch Protests In China

Internal Memo Shows IOC's Concerns About
Protests During China's Leg Of Torch Relay
An internal IOC memo indicates that the organization is "bracing for the possibility that once the Olympic torch reaches China, protests that have dogged the flame's journey around the world could escalate further and even lead to deaths," the latest sign that controversy surrounding the torch relay is "far from over," according to Stacy Meichtry of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In the 26-page confidential memo, the IOC "paints the torch's journey through China as a public-relations obstacle course as [BOCOG] and Chinese authorities prepare to confront protesters during segments of the relay as remote and perilous as the summit of Mt. Everest." While Beijing is expected to "tightly monitor the relay, the torch could attract protesters" while traveling through Tibet and Sichuan province, which has a "heavy Tibetan population." The memo presents a "series of talking points that guide officials on how to respond" to various issues, including the possibility of a death resulting from protests. In such a case, the memo recommends officials express "deepest sympathies or condolences to anyone that was injured or killed, and their families" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/15).

FLAME TRACKER: The torch relay moved from Tanzania to Muscat, Oman, yesterday, as "thousands cheered and some staged dances with traditional daggers." The "carnival-like atmosphere" was a "welcome respite for Olympic organizers seeking to avoid protests." The torch next travels to Islamabad, Pakistan, tomorrow (USA TODAY, 4/15).

TRACK TRIALS PREPARING: In Portland, Binder & Goe report Eugene 08, the local organizing committee for the U.S. Track & Field trials set to be held in Eugene, Oregon, from June 27-July 6, "plans to be ready" for potential protests. Eugene 08 co-Chair Greg Erwin: "We're hoping, quite honestly, to be respectful of everyone's right of free speech. We endorse that. But we hope those who do have something they want to protest, that they will be respectful of the athletes and the spectators -- particularly because there are athletes trying to realize their lifelong dreams." Erwin added that there is a security plan in place "to deal with any type of disturbance" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/15).

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