IOC receives Beijing assurances - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

IOC receives Beijing assurances

By Stephen Wade 03/04/2008 08:53:35 PM Comments (0)

The International Olympic Committee has received "assurances" from Beijing Olympic organisers regarding internet access and live television broadcasts during the Games, as well as efforts to deal with the capital's noxious air pollution.

With the Games to begin in four months, the IOC inspectors - known as the coordination commission - completed their final official meetings with Beijing organisers.

"We were satisfied by assurances we received across a number of areas," Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the inspection team, said. "There is every reason to believe that a gold-medal performance is within their grasp."

Verbruggen said the IOC was a sporting body and not a political one, and would not take sides over issues such as human rights or pro-Tibet protests.

"The Games are being drawn into issues that do not have necessarily a link with the operations side of the Games," he said. "It's the truth. We are all aware the international community is discussing these topics."

Top-ranking IOC officials told Games organisers this week that internet censorship had to be lifted for thousands of journalists covering the event. About 30,000 accredited and non-accredited reporters were expected to report on the Games.

Kevan Gosper, vice chairman of the IOC coordinating commission, said restricting access to the Internet during the games "would reflect very poorly" on the host nation.

Chinese citizens' access to some websites and blogs is routinely blocked by the government - a practice it has stepped up since rioting broke out last month in Tibet.

Verbruggen said all rights-holding broadcasters would receive live television feeds and would be free to use them as they wish. Broadcasters had been lobbying against reported plans by Chinese officials to bar live television broadcasts from iconic spots like Tiananmen Square.

China routinely uses 30-second to one-minute delays to control broadcasts on state-run TV. The Olympic torch lighting ceremony last month in Greece was disrupted by a protester who ran up behind a top Chinese official giving a speech. The image seen around the world was never shown on state TV in China.

Monday's torch arrival in Tiananmen Square was also broadcast on a delay, though heavy security prevented any disruptions.

Verbruggen said he was satisfied with plans to deal with Beijing's pollution.

IOC officials had acknowledged that outdoor endurance events of more than an hour could present a small health risk to athletes. IOC President Jacques Rogge began saying seven months ago that events would be postponed if the air quality were poor.

Last month the IOC's top medical officer said Beijing's air quality was better than expected. A study approved by the IOC showed there were risks to athletes in outdoor endurance events and conditions may be less than ideal during the August 8-24 period.

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