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Olympics notebook

IOC calls for more media freedom

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Wire Reports / August 15, 2008
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The International Olympic Committee yesterday urged China to allow foreign reporters at the Beijing Games to report freely after a British journalist trying to cover a protest was allegedly roughed up by police.

At its daily briefing, the IOC was peppered with questions about an incident the day before in which a British TV journalist said he was manhandled and dragged into a police van while trying to cover an unauthorized protest by activists pushing for independence for Tibet. Police have said they mistook him for a protester.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the committee disapproves of "any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules."

"This, we hope, has been addressed. We don't want to see this happening again," she said.

Meanwhile, activists complained that protest zones designated by Beijing organizers were set up as a way to catch dissidents - not let them speak out. At least one person who applied to hold a demonstration in one of protest parks was detained by police. Before the Games, China said would-be protestors would have to apply for permission in advance.

"Sadly, I think the protest zones are just a trap at some level," said Lhadon Tethong of Students for a Free Tibet.

Political futbol

Organizers of Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic bid are counting on soccer to help land South America its first-ever games. Rio is confident that by hosting the 2014 World Cup it can gain an extra edge and capture international sport's biggest - and most financially lucrative - event. "The 2014 soccer World Cup is very, very important. It's the basis for the success of our organization," said Rio 2016 president Carlos Arthur Nuzman. Bid organizers also see last year's Pan American Games as a key indicator in its battle with Chicago, Tokyo, and Madrid. "We organized the best Pan Am Games ever, at the Olympics level," Nuzman said . . . Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago returned stateside after stumping in China for his city's 2016 Olympic bid. Chicago's plans include more than a dozen new permanent and temporary venues and money to make existing venues Olympic caliber at an estimated cost of $900 million. There's also a $1 billion Athletes' Village that would be a public-private partnership.

Taiwain 3B called out

Taiwanese third baseman Chang Tai-shan has been banned indefinitely by the sport's governing body after failing a drug test. Chang had initially been banned for one game - Taiwan's 5-0 win over the Netherlands on Wednesday - pending the testing of his "B" sample. No other details of Chang's positive test, including the type of drug involved, were released by the Taiwanese federation . . . Canada's men's water polo coach, Dragan Jovanovic, was ejected from his team's 8-5 preliminary-round loss to Australia, a penalty that comes with a one-game suspension from Olympic competition.

Weather delays

Rain washed out most of yesterday's rowing and canoe-kayak events. Instead of today's off day for rowers, they will compete in the semifinals in lightweight men's and women's double sculls, lightweight men's four, and men's quadruple sculls, and several B finals. Also pushed back to today were the semifinals and the final of women's kayak single and the men's canoe double final . . . All racing at the sailing venue in Qingdao was canceled because of lack of wind and low visibility, forcing the starts to be moved to today, when stronger winds are predicted . . . According to Beijing Olympic organizing committee spokesman Wang Wei, two van passengers involved in a Wednesday crash with a bus from the Athletes' Village remain hospitalized, including one in serious condition. Two other van passengers were killed when their vehicle collided with a bus, which was carrying the Croatian double sculls team of Mario Vekic and Ante Kusurin among others, near the rowing venue. No one on the bus was seriously injured . . . A Las Vegas man suspected of fatally shooting former Olympic boxer Rhoshii Wells, 31, was arrested Wednesday near the Nevada-Arizona border, police said. Arizona troopers arrested Roger Randolph, 26, during a traffic stop. Wells, who won the bronze medal in the 165-pound class at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, was shot twice in the torso Monday outside his apartment complex in Las Vegas, reportedly after arguing with Randolph earlier in the day.

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