Cablegate: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics: Usg Situation Report
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O 250756Z AUG 08
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 BEIJING 003275
DEPT, FOR, DS/IP/EAP, DS/DSS/DO, DS/TIA/OSAC, DS/P/MECU,
DS/TIA/ITA, DS/DO/P, DS/ICI/CI, DS/T/ATA, DS/TIA,
DS/TIA/PII, DS/CC, EAP/CM, S/CT, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP, PASS TO
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (TSA) OPERATIONS
CENTER, HONG KONG FOR RSO AND LEGAT AND USSS, SHANGHAI FOR
RSO, SHENYANG FOR RSO,CHENGDU FOR RSO, GUANGZHOU FOR RSO,
USSS HQS FOR INV, OPO, HNL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC CH CMGT ECON KOLY OVIP PREL PTER
SUBJECT: BEIJING 2008 SUMMER OLYMPICS: USG SITUATION REPORT
REF: A. BEIJING 3253
B. BEIJING 2994
C. BEIJING 3049
D. BEIJING 3254
E. BEIJING 3241
F. BEIJING 3106
1. (SBU) The following cable provides information on
security, public diplomacy, political, and consular
activities related to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games
as of 08/25/2008.
2. (U) The interagency USG Joint Operations Center (JOC) can
be contacted on a 24-hour basis at the following numbers:
- JOC Direct Line: 011-86-010-6532-6966.
- U.S. Embassy Beijing: 011-86-010-6532-3431, JOC extension
- JOC fax: 011-86-010-6532-4763.
- STE and fax: 011-86-010-6532-5163.
3. (U) Successful Closure of the Summer Olympic Games: At
approximately 2200 hours local time on 08/24/2008,
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge
declared the Games of the 29th Olympiad officially closed.
Praised by Rogge as a "truly exceptional Games," the Closing
Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games opened to
an explosion of fireworks, featured soccer star David Beckham
punting a soccer ball into the crowd from a London
double-decker bus, and ended with the extinguishing of the
Olympic torch. Chinese security measures around the Olympic
Green ensured that the ceremony concluded without disruption
to the celebration.
4. (SBU) JOC Continues Operations through 08/26/2008: On
08/25/2008, the majority of U.S. Olympic athletes, family
members, and coaches, as well as USG Olympic support
personnel and American tourists, will begin departing from
Beijing. The JOC will remain in operation through 1500 hours
local time on 08/26/2008 in order to monitor the initial
departures of U.S. citizens and to provide security liaison
support as necessary.
5. (SBU) Threats: There is no significant threat
information to report.
6. (U) Incidents: There are no significant incidents to
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7. (SBU) Olympic Protests: Eight American Detainees
Released Early: On 08/24/2008, the Beijing Public Security
Bureau (PSB) notified the U.S. Embassy that the eight U.S.
citizens in detention for pro-Tibet activities had been
deported to the United States via the 2100 hours Air China
flight to Los Angeles; the eight--six of whom belonged to the
group "Free Tibet Reporters" and two of whom belonged to
"Students for a Free Tibet"--were originally to have been
released on 08/30/2008 and 08/31/2008, respectively. The
deportations came a week earlier than expected and followed
several days of high-level Embassy engagement with Chinese
officials on the matter (ref. a). These efforts culminated
on 08/24/2008, when the Embassy's Public Affairs Section
(PAS) issued a public statement by Ambassador Clark T. Randt
calling for the immediate release of the eight detainees.
Using press guidance drafted by PAS, the Embassy confirmed
the deportations on 08/25/2008 with CNN, AFP, AP, Bloomberg,
the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.
8. (SBU) Visa Ban for Detainees: Separately, Beijing PSB
sources told the U.S. American Citizens Services (ACS) office
that the eight Americans deported on 08/24/2008 will be
barred from returning to China for a minimum of five years.
9. (SBU) FLO Presence at the Closing Ceremony: Four USG
Field Liaison Officers (FLO) accompanied U.S. athletes as
they took to the field at the National "Bird's Nest" Stadium
for the Olympics Closing Ceremony. The FLOs reported no
incidents during the ceremony, though one U.S. athlete
received assistance after being surrounded by enthusiastic
fans. Crowd and access control--which have been ongoing
concerns for high-profile teams and athletes--was adequate to
the number of spectators in the stadium.
10. (SBU) Airport Departure Surge--Expect Delays:
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives have indicted
that 08/25/2008 through 08/27/2008 will be peak travel days
at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), with U.S.
air carriers running sold-out flights during this timeframe.
The majority of Olympic athletes and visitors will be
departing Beijing on these dates and athletes for the
upcoming Paralympic Games starting on 09/06/2008 will be
arriving. USG Olympic support personnel will be departing
China in three waves on 08/25/2008, 08/26/2008, and
08/28/2008. TSA has noted the surge in departures, coupled
with the arrival of Paralympics personnel, will likely put a
strain on BCIA services and travelers have been advised to
BEIJING 00003275 003 OF 005
leave adequate time to get through ticket and security lines.
Separately, FAA and TSA notified the JOC that the
08/25/2008 United Airlines flight scheduled to depart Beijing
at 1830 hours local time for Washington, DC, has been delayed
until 0830 hours local time on 08/26/2008. Approximately 240
U.S. athletes--as well as a number of USG Olympic support
personnel--were ticketed on this flight; the delay is not a
result of the airport surge.
11. (SBU) Olympic Airport Statistics: According to FAA,
U.S. commercial air carriers conducted 746 flights through
BCIA to the United States--carrying over 150,000
passengers--between 08/01/2008 and 08/24/2008. Even with the
large number of flights, FAA noted that only two were delayed
due to mechanical issues and less than 20 experienced delays
of 30 minutes or less due to weather or other conditions.
These statistics are for U.S.-based carriers only and do not
include flights conducted by the four Chinese airlines that
also operate flights to the U.S. Airport officials had
previously projected that BCIA would receive 1,500 flights
and 260,000 passengers a day during peak Olympics travel
dates--including 08/07/2008 and 08/27/2008 (ref. b). FAA
also indicated that Chinese airport controllers successfully
managed the large number of charter and corporate flights
into and out of BCIA during the Olympic Games.
12. (SBU) Delegation Departures: The members of the USG
Delegation to the Olympics Closing Ceremony attended the
Olympics grand finale without incident on 08/24/2008. On
08/25/2008, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael
Leavitt is scheduled to depart Beijing. The head of the
Delegation--Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao--will depart
Beijing on 08/26/2008 with onward travel to Shanghai.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS/PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
13. (U) Please see the Olympics Protests and Consular
Affairs sections for updated information on PAS activities.
14. (U) Two U.S. Sponsors Drop London 2012 Olympics: U.S.
corporate Olympic sponsors Kodak and Johnson & Johnson
reportedly will not continue as part of the International
Olympic Committee's "worldwide partners" for the 2012 London
Games, according to a UK media source. Kodak, which has been
involved in every modern Olympics since 1896, acknowledged it
will focus on other marketing opportunities. Johnson &
Johnson is expected to announce shortly its decision to
reduce Olympic spending.
BEIJING 00003275 004 OF 005
15. (SBU) American Hotel Vandal Surrenders to Chinese
Authorities: U.S. citizen Edward Romero was detained by
Chinese authorities on the evening of 08/24/2008 while
staging a protest at Tiananmen Square; Mr. Romero had
reportedly been in hiding since 08/06/2008, when he when
painted the walls of two downtown Beijing hotel rooms with
anti-China statements and Bible verses (ref. c) and had
indicated that he would turn himself in to police after the
conclusion of the Olympic Games (ref. d). According to his
daughter--who called ACS to report her father's detention--he
was taken to a tent by uniformed police and held before being
driven to another location by plainclothes officers. Mr.
Romero turned on his cell phone to record his detention and
the audio clip has been loaded onto his website; ACS has
copied the file and will forward it to the Foreign Service
Institute (FSI) for possible inclusion in the Consular
Officer training program. ACS has contacted the Beijing PSB
to determine Mr. Romero's status and whereabouts.
Anticipating the strong media interest in this story, the
Embassy's Public Affairs Section (PAS) prepared press
guidance on the surrender and subsequently used it in
speaking with reporters from AP, Bloomberg and the Los
Angeles Times on 08/25/2008.
16. (U) IOC Head Urges China to Maintain Press Freedoms:
During an 08/24/2008 press conference, IOC President Jacques
Rogge urged China to maintain greater freedoms for the
foreign media after the end of the Olympic Games. Rogge
indicated that he had raised with Chinese officials the
extension of relaxed reporting rules beyond their October
expiration and had been given "indications that this might be
considered." Foreign journalists in Beijing have reported
being harassed or detained for covering demonstrations and
issues that the Chinese Government considers negative (ref.
17. (U) Opening Ceremony Singing Scandal: According to a
report from the Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights
and Democracy, Vice President Xi Jinping was the Chinese
Communist Party Politburo member who reportedly personally
decided that a "cuter" girl should appear in the Opening
Ceremony on 08/08/2008 while the real singer sang from behind
the scenes (ref. f). The report said it was not known
whether Xi's wife, a famous singer in China, was also
involved in the decision. Xi Jinping was designated the top
Party member in charge of the Olympics earlier this year. He
was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee in October
BEIJING 00003275 005 OF 005
2007 and appointed Vice President in March 2008.