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Olympics Notebook

Rogge lauds hosts for raising the bar

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Associated Press / August 25, 2008
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Giving the Summer Games to China proved to be the right thing to do and will pay benefits beyond sports, the International Olympic Committee said yesterday, even though it still won't solve "all the ills of the world" or hasten political change.

"It has been a long journey since our decision in July 2001 to bring the Olympic Games to China, but there can now be no doubt that we made the right choice," IOC president Jacques Rogge said on the final day of competition.

Despite the grand success of the Games in terms of organization, sports venues, and athletic performances, the IOC has been accused of failing to get China to live up to promises of improvements in human rights and press freedoms.

"We are first and foremost an organization devoted to sport, but it is sport with a purpose," Rogge said. "The IOC and the Olympic Games cannot force changes on sovereign nations or solve all the ills of the world. But we can, and we do, contribute to positive change through sport."

The Olympics, he said, brought unprecedented global scrutiny to the emerging superpower with one-fifth of the world's population. "The world has learned about China, and China has learned about the world, and I believe this is something that will have positive effects for the long term," Rogge said.

"It is clear that China has put the bar very high. I believe and my hope will be London can even put the bar higher."

More in store for Phelps

One thing London has going for it is the already-growing anticipation of US swimmer Michael Phelps attempting to exceed his record eight gold medals from Beijing.

"I am looking forward to trying some new events, some events I've never really had the opportunity to swim since my schedule is always so crowded," Phelps said while taking part in the British capital's handover celebrations.

Phelps said he's never competed in a backstroke event at a major international meet or in the 100-meter freestyle. "No breaststroke, no distance swimming, no open water swimming," Phelps said. "At least those guys will still be my friends."

The 23-year-old Phelps also confirmed that the 2012 Games will be his last Olympics. "I've never wanted to [compete] beyond 30," he said.

Appeal filed for track DQ

The Netherlands Antilles has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to restore Churandy Martina as the third-place finisher in the men's 200 meters after he was disqualified for stepping out of his lane last Wednesday. Usain Bolt of Jamaica won the race, American Wallace Spearmon finished second, and Martina was third, but Spearmon and Martina were disqualified for stepping out of their lanes. US runners Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix were given the silver and bronze medals. The Netherlands Antilles is arguing that the protest against Martina was filed well beyond the 30-minute deadline set by the international track federation, and they say they have video showing he stayed in his lane the entire time . . . Sudan is rejoicing after Darfur native Ismail Ahmed Ismail won the country's first-ever Olympic medal Saturday - a silver in the men's 800 meters - after nearly 50 years of participation, putting a rare positive light on the war torn region. "An unprecedented achievement," read the headline of the country's daily al-Sahafa.

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