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Howard's End: Beijing Doesn’t Qualify For Olympics

The race is on to share in Beijing's billions now that China has won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games. Australia, who helped with Beijing's bid to the IOC, is set to get about $3 billion of it, according to Austrade. Maree Howard writes.

"And the winner to host the 2008 Olympic Games is...........Moneyyyyyy!"

China will spend $100 billion over the next seven years to host the 2008 Olympic Games with global companies lining up in the starting blocks to take part in that goldrush.

According to Austrade, Australian companies could use their Sydney Games know-how to provide specialised skills in environment protection, transport telecommunications and sports venues.

Telstra, the telco giant, said over the weekend that it was pleased to have helped the Beijing bid committee and to have "contributed to Beijing's success."

And Rupert Murdoch's News Corp also looks set to reap a gold nugget, with the work he's being doing behind the scenes with the Chinese Government.

The official line from Western politicians is that winning the 2008 Games will help China "democratise" itself and join the rest of the world.


That was exactly the same argument used for the Berlin "Nazi" Olympics in 1936, followed closely by World War II. And the argument was used again for the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Russia invaded Afghanastan 12 months later.

Then there's the Western politicians argument that China has lifted their game on sport and deserve the Olympics.


Those in the West who backed the Beijing bid have been calling them drug cheats for years with many current athletes, who should know, to their credit still unconvinced.

And didn't the Sydney Olympics 2000 bid committee push the Chinese abysmal human rights record angle to IOC members to win the Games for Sydney? Now there's consistency for you.

The next Western political argument is that sporting contacts can be a great agent for positive change.

Bloody oath it can! But far more effective is the denial of sporting contacts. Does South Africa, sanctions, apartheid, ring a bell with anyone?

Almost 20 years ago to the day, many in this country raged at the 1981 visiting South African rugby team over human rights abuses and apartheid.

Today, our Prime Minister congratulates major human rights abusers on winning the Olympic Games. Scruples, principles, ethics - nah!

How can it be that New Zealand congratulates a country whose military has killed a million Tibetans since it invaded in 1950; a country that massacred up to 2,000 of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square just 12 years ago; a country that has 5,000 political and religious dissidents imprisoned in labour camps; many of whom Amnesty International says are systematically tortured; a country who conducts trials and execution rallies in sports stadiums; a country who shoots prisoners in the back of the head at close-range then harvests their organs to sell as transplants.

This is the country who changed the colour of their police uniforms from green to blue in order to convince the world that police where not part of the military. Propaganda? - you be the judge.

Can this be the country that the IOC committee thinks is OK to take the Olympic flame from Athens?

Just three nights ago on the nightly news, footage was shown of a young woman being interviewed in Beijing about whether she thought her country should be awarded the 2008 Olympic Games.

"No" she said in broken English. "Human rights...."

At that very instant a group of soldiers moved in and marched her away while at the same time blocking the camera lens with their hands.

And when the IOC committee was recently meeting, Tibetan demonstrators outside where physically removed and the camera lens blocked by Russian police - or were they soldiers?

The Olympic philosophy states, " Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."

The IOC committee has disgracefully awarded an event which calls for peace and harmony to a country which still conducts widespread human rights violations.

The execution of Qiu Xuanming captures the gruesome details of China's police-state tactics.

Interview with Mr Qui's brother in Shanghai carried in the New York Times, March 11 - just four months ago:
" Mr Qiu's head, which had been shot in the back at close range; The pants were undone, and the striped shirt was open and the shirt he was wearing inside was pushed up. There was blood on his shirt and when I saw the blood I realised what had happened and pulled it open. His belly was cut open, the intestines were spilling out."

Mr Qui was executed for tax evasion. He became one of hundreds, some reports say thousands, of condemned people in China whose organs are "harvested" minutes after their death by gunshot to the back of the head.

Many of the executed become "organ donors" a practice permitted under 1994 rules but only - it is claimed - with the written consent of the prisoner or his or her relatives.

China executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined, although the exact number is a tightly guarded secret according to human rights groups.

Allegations of skin peeling and eye and organ removal at the execution site are rife from Chinese dissidents. But mostly they are officially denied with no real opportunity provided to check the denials.

For a country who is desperately trying to enter the global "free trade" arena, you would think China would also be practising that core human rights freedom, which is the right of the public to freely elect their government. China's continuing atrocities remain symptoms of an underlying reality that power in Beijing is in the hands of an unrepresentative and unelected clique.

And what of the IOC?

In a series of decisions by the IOC's closely watched ethics committee last week, an Indonesian member who is in jail for corruption escaped expulsion, an Ivory Coast delegate accused of plotting an assassination was spared an official sanction and a move to open a new inquiry into the Salt Lake City bribery scandal was dropped as unnecessary.

It's going to be a very rocky-road ahead with some top athletes supporting Beijing's bid while others are seething and bitter. Some human rights groups are also starting to call for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games itself. World opinion is bitterly divided.

The IOC and many Western companies and politicians wanted Beijing to have the Games - now, they will have to live with it.

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