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Thread: 2008 Beijing Olympics

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  1. #21

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Belgian athletes will be barred from talking politics at Beijing Olympic sites
    01/23/2008 | 11:12 PM
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    BRUSSELS, Belgium – Belgian athletes will be prohibited from raising human rights or other political issues at Olympic venues during the Beijing Games. Outside the sports venues and Olympic village, however, they will be free to speak their mind.

    The Belgian Olympic Committee said Wednesday it would issue a strict code of conduct for athletes competing in Beijing.

    "Not a single participant in the games will be allowed to give a political opinion at the Olympic venues (e.g.: competition sites and the Olympic village)," the committee said in a statement.

    The committee also ruled that Olympic athletes would be barred from wearing any distinctive insignia protesting China's human rights record.

    However, the committee said athletes would be free to talk about "issues that are personally relevant" outside the Olympic venues and during the six-month run-up to the games.

    As the games draw near, the issue of human rights in China is increasingly prominent in the European media and several Olympic committees are pondering how to address the issue.

    Last week, the Dutch government said China's human rights record must improve and that the Beijing Olympics should be used as an opportunity to press for change. China has already come out against raising political issues during the games.

    In Europe, several activists have called for a boycott of the games to protest China's human rights record. Protests usually center on the treatment of the spiritual movement Falun Gong, which is banned in China, and activists defending the cause of an independent Tibet.

    The Belgian committee said it was "utterly convinced that the games would have a positive influence on the social development of a country like China." - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  2. #22

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Beijing unveils 'cool' Watercube swimming venue for Olympics
    01/28/2008 | 09:53 PM
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    BEIJING – The "Watercube" swimming venue – an iconic, futuristic structure for the 2008 Olympics that looks like a building covered in bubble wrap – was unveiled Monday in Beijing.

    Beijing Olympic organizing committee president Liu Qi and Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong both dipped their hands into the competition pool and seemed satisfied at the brief unveiling ceremony. Guo even put the pool water to his lips.

    Known officially as the National Aquatics Center, the Watercube has been dubbed the "cool" building of the Games because of its translucent, blue-toned outer skin that makes it look like a cube of bubbles.

    Forty-two gold medals will be up for grabs at the venue during the Olympics, which start August 8. American Michael Phelps will be out to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals. He just missed the mark in 2004, winning six in Athens.

    "There are many different buildings in the world, and I believe this could be one of the most significant sports venues," said Zheng Fang, an architect and chief of the design team for China Construction Design International.

    The Chinese company collaborated with Australian company PTW Architects.

    "The building is very innovative in how it appears," said John Pauline, a lead architect with PTW. "The aesthetics are cutting edge. In that respect it's incredibly unique."

    The venue has 6,000 permanent and 11,000 temporary seats. Like the 91,000-seat National Stadium – the "Bird's Nest," which will be completed in March – both are seen as works of art and will anchor the Olympic Green area.

    While some argue the gargantuan "Bird's Nest" could become a white elephant, the Watercube has been built for conversion to a shopping area and leisure center with tennis courts, a water park, retail outlets, nightclubs and restaurants.

    "This building was designed for use after the Games," Pauline said. "We were looking at 30 or 40 years from now."

    The outside and inside skin is made of a Teflon-like material – ETFE, or ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene. Composed of two layers, it's separated by an interior passage that allows the building to breathe like a greenhouse.

    The maintenance could be complicated. At the unveiling it was clear the bubbles needed cleaning, soiled by Beijing's dirty air. Officials said this would take about a week and would be done periodically.

    The exact cost of the building has been shrouded in secrecy, with estimates ranging from $150 million (€102 million) to more than US$200 million (€136 million). The original cost estimate was about $100 million (€68 million). Much of the building was financed by $110 million (€75 million) in private contributions from people in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

    The Watercube and Bird's Nest are located several hundred meters (yards) across from each other, situated on either side of a "sacred" north-south axis and promises to shift development. The venues are eight kilometers (five miles) due north of Tiananmen Square – the world's largest public plaza – and the Forbidden City.

    There will be 37 venues for the Olympics. Beijing is the site of 31 – 12 new, 11 renovated, and eight temporary structures. Most are located in four clusters in the north of the city. Five more venues for soccer and sailing are located outside Beijing, and equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong.

    The Watercube will host a test event this week. Though it hasn't drawn a top field, at least one swimmer can't wait to test the water.

    "It's an important meet for me," said Swedish sprinter Stefan Nystrand, who competes at 50 and 100 meters. "I think it's great to be here since it's the same pool as the Olympics. I don't know why more top guys aren't showing up." - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  3. #23

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Olympic champ Meares could miss Beijing due to race accident
    01/29/2008 | 06:38 PM
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    ADELAIDE, Australia – Australian cyclist Anna Meares, winner of the 2004 Olympic 500-meter gold medal in track cycling, could miss a chance to defend her title due to a serious race accident.

    Meares suffered a fractured neck vertebrae and dislocated shoulder in a crash during a track cycling World Cup meet in Los Angeles nine days ago.

    The crash has put her Beijing Olympic selection in jeopardy and forced her out of Australian and world championship meets.

    "I realize that I'm pretty lucky with the injuries that I have come away with," Meares said Tuesday. "The C2 vertebrae, so I have been told, is the one that controls all your breathing and if that goes, so too does your life."

    Meares, who will be sidelined for about six weeks, sits fourth on the World Cup points table, with the top nine granted an Olympic berth.

    With two Olympic qualification meetings to come, Meares, 24, could be surpassed by other riders – meaning she would need an exemption from world cycling's governing body, the UCI.

    The UCI can award wild cards to riders, but only if a pre-qualified cyclist withdraws from the Olympics.

    "If I miss out on points, I will have to continue training through and hope the UCI gives me that wild card," she said.

    Australian track cycling head coach Martin Barras said Meares' Olympic selection "has been taken out of our hands".

    "Where we had control of the selection process, now we don't anymore," Barras said.

    "Considering the severity of the injuries, we don't want to mingle with her recovery with any sort of pressure with regards to qualifying or getting back into racing before she is fully ready – the severity of the neck injury dictates that."

    Meares also suffered torn neck muscles, torn shoulder tendons and bruising in her fall in the kierin final in Los Angeles.

    "I remember hitting my head and being in a lot of pain straight away, and the next thing that I remember was being on the bottom of the track being tended to," she said.

    "When it's explained to you how severe the injury could have been, (I feel) fortunate to walk away with as little as I have got." - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  4. #24

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Ian Thorpe heads list of Australian torchbearers for Beijing flame
    01/30/2008 | 06:42 PM
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    CANBERRA, Australia – Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe and runner Ron Clarke, who lit the Olympic cauldron in Melbourne 52 years ago, head the list of Australians participating in the Beijing Games torch relay.

    "It is a great honor to be a small part of the torch relay," Thorpe said from Beijing, "in what will truly be an amazing event."

    A total of 80 people, including past and present Olympians, will take part in the only Australian leg of the relay on April 24 in Canberra.

    Thorpe won a record nine Olympic medals before his retirement in November 2006.

    Other former Olympians taking part include Clarke, who carried the flame around the Melbourne Cricket Ground before lighting the cauldron at the 1956 Olympics, and marathon runner Robert De Castella, who competed at four Olympics.

    Current Australian Olympians will be represented by swimmers Jodie Henry and Alice Mills and archery bronze medalist Tim Cuddihy.

    Canberra will be the only Australian destination for the flame in what has become the world's longest Olympic torch relay.

    Olympic organizers say 22,000 torchbearers will carry the flame on its journey from Greece to Beijing for the opening ceremony on Aug. 8. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  5. #25

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    NBA China to manage Beijing arena during and after Olympics
    01/31/2008 | 05:56 PM
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    BEIJING – The NBA has taken a stake in designing and running Beijing's Olympic basketball venue, during and after August's Summer Games.

    NBA China – a joint venture of the NBA, broadcaster ESPN and Chinese companies – has joined promoter AEG and the Beijing Wukesong Culture and Sports Center to design, market, program and operate the stadium, NBA China said Thursday.

    Basketball is growing in popularity in China, and the nation's top player, Houston center Yao Ming, is expected to be one of the Games' major stars.

    The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball are all striving to crack the China market, and take advantage of the nation's burgeoning leisure spending.

    The glass-walled indoor stadium in western Beijing seats 18,000, sitting beside baseball fields that will be torn down and replaced after the games.

    There had already been an agreement the NBA, the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee, and FIBA – the game's world governing body – to run the facility during the Games. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  6. #26

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Olympic athletes look for a solution to Beijing's pollution
    02/05/2008 | 12:01 AM
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    BEIJING – Tyson Gay has heard stories that some athletes may wear facemasks at the Beijing Olympics, hoping to fend off fumes in one of the world's most polluted capitals.

    "I hear a lot of people saying: 'You'll have to wear a mask, you'll have to do this or that,"' the 100- and 200-meter world champion said Monday on a visit to Beijing. "Everyone has to run in it. I'm not going to let something like that distract me."

    Several American officials have said their athletes would not compete wearing masks, which would embarrass the host Chinese. Gay said he agreed with that line of thinking.

    "I'm sorry, I couldn't do that (wear a mask)," he said.

    Gay said he'll train in Hong Kong and might arrive in Beijing a week before the opening of the Olympics. He seemed convinced that Beijing organizers will close factories, stop feverish construction and ban more than 1 million vehicles from the roads to keep sooty air from staining China's highly polished preparations for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics.

    He was, however, in the minority among a small group of elite athletes visiting Monday to inspect the facilities and do promotions for sporting goods maker Adidas, a major Olympic sponsor.

    Several said they would stay away from Beijing until the last moment, choosing to train in Japan or nearby. Others will simply stay home, like Texan Jeremy Wariner, the defending Olympic and world 400-meter champion.

    Haile Gebrselassie, recognized as the world's greatest distance runner and holder of the world marathon record, said he might skip the Olympic marathon and opt for the shorter 10,000 meters.

    "The pollution is the most important thing," Gebrselassie said. "Actually, when we talk about the pollution, it's not only during the Olympic Games. What about the people here? They are really suffering."

    He said he'd be training outside China and would need a few more months to decide about the Olympics.

    "Compared to other events, the marathon is very hard to do here in Beijing," he said. "To run more than two hours in these kind of conditions is really very, very difficult. I'm sure the organizers of Beijing – they have to do something special for the marathon otherwise it's very difficult to run.

    "Just to walk it's really hard, too."

    International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has warned several times that endurance events would be postponed if air pollution presents a danger.

    Beijing has begun shutting down blast furnaces in the city's biggest steel company to improve air quality. It is also expected to enact temporary traffic restrictions during the games to ease traffic and reduce vehicle exhaust.

    Ground-level dust, soot and industrial emissions mixed with car exhaust creates a gray haze that often blankets the city of 17 million.

    Jana Rawlinson of Australia, the world champion in the 400-meter hurdles, said she'll train in Japan and arrive in Beijing on Aug. 15 – a week after the Games open.

    "Our sports science people have said that you can't adapt to the pollution," she said. "You can adapt to the humidity and the environment, but pollution is not something your body can get used to. That's Australia's research. Whether it's the truth or not is up to different opinions.

    "I am going to avoid it until I have to race in it."

    She acknowledged the pollution might not be as bad as expected, and said some athletes are a "bit finicky." She cited a personal example to show the pollution may not slow athletes in short races.

    "I ran in Shanghai last year and they let off fireworks right before my final, so I could barely see my hurdles and I didn't have a problem. The times didn't seem to be effected."

    Wariner, who parted recently with long-time coach Clyde Hart, said he'll stay home in Waco, Texas, and arrive in Beijing the day before the opening ceremony. He said he'll skip a US training camp, likely to be set up just outside Beijing.

    "I feel like I'll get better training at home," said Wariner, who is now coached by Michael Ford, a Hart protegee.

    "I don't think the pollution is going to be as bad as some people say it will be," he said. "If it's going to bother me, it's going to bother all the other athletes. I mean the pollution is going to be there for everybody."

    Teammate Allyson Felix, the world 200-meter champion, said she'd arrive in China two weeks before the Olympics and attend the US training camp.

    "I think I'm more concerned about the heat and I'd like to just get adjusted to it and get familiar with it. I think the pollution is just something we're going to have to deal with. Thankfully, it's not for that long." - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  7. #27

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Olympic athletes choose Japan for training ahead of Beijing Games
    02/07/2008 | 05:30 PM
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    TOKYO – Japan is becoming the destination of choice this summer for athletes looking to prepare for the Beijing Olympics while dodging China's notorious pollution.

    According to the Japan Olympic Committee, Germany, Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands have made arrangements for some of their athletes to train in Japan ahead of the Olympics and more are expected to follow.

    The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest daily, reported that as many as 20 countries are looking to have their athletes train in Japan before the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

    Japan's proximity to China and its modern facilities make it an attractive place for athletes to prepare for the Olympics.

    A flight from Tokyo to Beijing takes less than four hours and there are many direct flights to Beijing from cities in western Japan.

    Sweden will set up a training camp in Fukuoka for 150 athletes while Belgium is looking at a training facility in nearby Kumamoto.

    Jana Rawlinson of Australia, the world champion in the 400-meter hurdles, said she'll train in Japan and arrive in Beijing on Aug. 15 – a week after the Games open.

    Rawlinson acknowledged the pollution might not be as bad as expected but still plans to train elsewhere.

    "I am going to avoid it until I have to race in it," said Rawlinson.

    Other athletes and officials were reluctant to publicly cite air pollution and food quality in China as reasons for training in Japan.

    "We picked the same place where we prepared last year for the world championships (in Osaka) because we had a very good experience there," Eberhard Vollmer, a spokesman for the German athletics federation, said Thursday. "The climate is nearly identical, we can work off the jet lag and just the entire surroundings were good."

    Vollmer said concerns over air quality in Beijing weren't behind the decision to have German athletes train in Japan.

    Britain's swimming team, which took part in a meet in Japan last summer, will also train in Osaka.

    "We chose Osaka for the familiarity of the area for the British swimmers and coaches and the quality of the facility," said David Richards, media manager for British Swimming. "It also has easy access to Beijing."

    In attempt to curb air pollution during the Games, Beijing organizers will close factories, halt construction and ban more than 1 million vehicles from the roads. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  8. #28

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    Argentina still unbeaten in Olympic qualifying
    02/06/2008 | 05:39 PM
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    AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Argentina beat hosts New Zealand 3-1 in a men's Olympic qualifying field hockey match Wednesday to remain the only unbeaten team after four rounds at the six-nation tournament.

    Both New Zealand and Argentina were previously unbeaten but, boosted by Rodrigo Vila's two goals, Argentina won a match which was regarded as a preview of Sunday's tournament final. The winner of that match will play at August's Beijing Olympics.

    Lucas Cammareri put Argentina ahead with a 17th-minute field goal and they never relinquished the lead.

    Vila scored his first goal from a free hit five minutes later, giving Argentina the 2-0 lead they carried to halftime.

    Argentina sealed the match when Vila capitalized on a defensive error to score again early in the second half. New Zealand's only goal came eight minutes from full-time, when Dean Collier broke the defense from a free hit.

    New Zealand must now beat France on Thursday to take its place opposite Argentina in the final.

    France beat Trinidad and Tobago 5-2 to join the hosts on a 3-1 record after four games. Matthieu Durchon scored twice for France, which also got goals from Martin Genestet, Frederic Soyez and Gerome Branquart.

    The Caribbean side, whose goals came from Wayne Legerton and Nicholas Wren, has yet to win at the tournament but has improved steadily since a 12-0 loss to New Zealand in its opening match.

    Mark Gleghorne scored five goals as Ireland beat the United States 8-0. Ireland needed a win by 10 goals or more to displace New Zealand for its second place on the championship table. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  9. #29

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    British athletes must agree to avoid protests or gestures at Beijing Olympics
    02/10/2008 | 09:25 PM
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    LONDON – British athletes at the Olympics must sign a new clause in their contracts which prohibits making politically sensitive remarks or gestures during the Beijing Games.

    "The reality is, given the level of political scrutiny of the world's media on these games and the way China will handle them, the BOA felt it was sensible and proper to flag that rule to our athletes," British Olympic Association communications director Graham Mewson said Sunday.

    The International Olympic Committee already has a rule which states that "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

    In January, Belgian athletes were told they would be prohibited from raising human rights or other political issues at Olympic venues. Outside the sports venues and Olympic village, however, they will be free to speak their mind.

    The BOA is making the change because China's government is widely regarded as sensitive to criticism over issues such as its human rights record and Tibet, Mewson said.

    British athletes have been required to sign the 32-page BOA contract for 20 years before competing in the Olympics, but this is the first time such a clause is being added.

    Mewson said the clause will not bar British athletes from "honestly answering" questions they are asked during interviews at the Aug. 8-24 games about "politically sensitive issues."

    "An athlete who decides to lift up his team shirt to show a 'Free Tibet' one below it, that's very different," Mewson said. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!

  10. #30

    Re: The 2008 Beijing Olympics

    British Olympic chiefs have no desire to gag athletes in Beijing
    02/12/2008 | 12:21 AM
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    LONDON – The British Olympic Association said Monday it has "no intention of gagging" its athletes at the Beijing Games.

    On Sunday, the BOA said it would require its athletes to sign a new clause in their contracts which prohibits making politically sensitive remarks or gestures during the Olympics.

    "Clearly (the instructions) had been misinterpreted and we now accept they may have been open to misinterpretation," BOA spokesman Graham Newsom said Monday. "But there is no intention of gagging anyone. We are trying to mirror what it says in the Olympic Charter."

    Simon Clegg, the BOA's chief executive, admitted that the BOA's Team Members Agreement appeared to go beyond the provision of the Olympic Charter.

    "This is not our intention nor is it our desire to restrict athletes freedom of speech and the final agreement will reflect this," Clegg said.

    While the clarification was seen as a backdown, Newsom said no such gagging order existed. He said the organization had not tried to put any block on free speech and had been under no political pressure from the government.

    "The reality is that we have historically had a very strong independent views and we are completely different from government," Newsom said. "We don't take any government funding and we make our own views."

    The BOA has sent out instructions to athletes headed for Beijing that they should abide by IOC-backed regulations which state they should not comment on any politically sensitive issues or take part in political, religious or racial propaganda at the Olympic sites and venues.

    Newsom said these instructions had been in affect for at least 20 years and were sent out to those athletes going to their first Olympics who had not seen them before.

    In January, Belgian athletes were told they would be prohibited from raising human rights or other political issues at Olympic venues. Outside the sports venues and Olympic village, however, they will be free to speak their mind. - AP
    And that's the bottom line, because I said so!


 
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