April 5, 2006

Beijing 2008 Games will improve human rights-Rogge

By Karolos Grohmann

SEOUL (Reuters) - The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will help
improve human rights conditions in China, International Olympic
Committee chief Jacques Rogge said on Wednesday.

The IOC has been criticized by human rights groups in the
past for awarding the Games to Communist China in 2001 on the
grounds of what they said were gross and systematic human
rights violations.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected the claims, saying the
Games would show the world the social changes the country has
undergone in past years.

"The IOC is absolutely clear that it wants full respect of
human rights," Rogge told reporters ahead of a meeting of the
Olympic body's Executive Board.

"It is however not its task to monitor human rights; we are
not equipped to do that."

But he said the number of foreign journalists who would
cover the Games in 2008 and the international media scrutiny
Beijing has been under since winning the bid to host the
Olympics would improve its human rights track record.

"The staging of the Beijing Games will do a lot for human
rights and social relations," he said. "We are sure that this
is going to be the case."

He said that point had also been made by the Chinese when
bidding for Olympics.

"Having 20 to 25,000 press people covering, will open up
the country to the whole world. That will have a positive

China, operating under a one-party political system, has
among the highest number of executions in the world.