If You Can’t Take the Heat, Call Off the Briefing

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The New York Sun

International Olympic Committee and Beijing Olympic organizing officials who came under intense pressure from journalists at a news briefing Thursday came up with a way to deflect such attacks over the weekend: They cancelled the sessions. Asked why the “daily” press conferences scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were called off, an IOC spokeswoman said they were unnecessary. “In terms of the Games’ operations, everything’s been going pretty smoothly,” the spokeswoman, Emmanuelle Moreau, said.

At the testy Thursday encounter, reporters angry about police harassment accused China of lying in order to win the right to stage the Games. On Thursday and Friday, reporters unsuccessfully pressed a Beijing Olympic organizer to provide figures on applications for protests during the Games. No protests are reported to have taken place in three designated protest zones, though a series of people have reportedly been arrested while trying to lodge applications to hold protests.


China’s red-hot economy is not expected to slow down or stall in the wake of the Olympics, according to analysts quoted Monday by the state-run English language newspaper, China Daily. “The Olympic Games won’t be a watershed for China’s economic growth,” Wang Yiming of the government-affiliated Academy of Macroeconomic Research said.

In preparation for the Games, China spent staggering sums of nearly $41 billion on infrastructure and almost $2 billion on sports facilities, the paper said. However, analysts said the hangover effect would be limited because the spending was a small fraction of the total economy and was largely confined to Beijing, which accounts for only 3.6% of China’s gross domestic product.


Contrary to published reports, China has plenty of condoms for frisky athletes in the Olympic Village and for other attendees of the Beijing Games, according to officials. Reuters reported earlier this month that condoms were in short supply in the athletes’ accommodation, but Chinese officials assert they had 100,000 to hand out, according to China Daily. About 300,000 condoms were placed in hotel rooms across the city, along with safe sex brochures, the newspaper said.

Two-thirds of the condoms set aside for athletes have gone unused, a medical official told the Associated Press, though demand may pick up this week as more of the sporting events conclude. At Athens in 2004, Olympic organizers at Athens ordered 130,000 prophylactics, after a shortage was reported in Sydney four years earlier.


In the face of widespread complaints that some of China’s gymnasts look much younger than the 16-year-old minimum age, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s medical panel is acknowledging that judging the age of such athletes is tricky. “This is a problem where you have an age limit. There is a temptation for manipulation,” Dr. Arne Ljungqvist told reporters at a briefing Friday, according to an official transcript. “There are ways of establishing the age or the suspected age of that person but it is not absolutely scientifically correct. … It can be plus or minus one or two years. It can also be manipulated by the way they take certain substances.”

Dr. Ljungqvist said that the issue with respect to the Chinese athletes competing here was “addressed” and that he was not suggesting they were underage.


Chinese customs officials seized more than 300 bibles from American missionaries as they arrived in the southern China city of Kunming yesterday, according to the Associated Press. “I heard there’s freedom of religion in China so why is there a problem for us to bring bibles,” Pat Klein of Vision Beyond Borders told AP. A customs official confirmed taking the bibles, which were printed in Chinese, but said they had not been formally seized. Chinese officials reportedly told the missionaries they could bring one bible each for their individual use, but not for distribution. There was no indication that the episode was related to the Olympics.

The New York Sun

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