Olympic Panel Probes Chinese Gymnast’s Age

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The International Olympic Committee is reportedly investigating the age of one of China’s gold-medal-winning gymnasts, He Kexin, after a computer security expert found evidence online that she may be 14 years old and under the minimum age to compete.

The Times of London reported that an American computer specialist, Michael Walker, found cached Chinese government documents showing Ms. He’s birthdate as January 1, 1994, not January 1, 1992, as China now claims and lists in her passport. An unnamed IOC official said the sporting body, which had earlier pronounced itself satisfied that the petite Chinese athlete was 16, is now looking into the “discrepancies,” the newspaper said.

A report from China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, about a gymnastics competition last November described Ms. He as 13, but officials dismissed that as an error, the Associated Press reported last week.


In a departure from their earlier tactic of quickly deporting foreigners protesting in Beijing, Chinese officials are now detaining six overseas visitors allegedly linked to disruptions in the Chinese capital. Six foreigners arrested on Tuesday were sentenced to 10 days detentions for “disrupting public order,” local police said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. The statement issued last night did not describe the detainees or their cause, but said one was named “Thomas.”

“We’re aware of these reports and we have consular officers working with Chinese officials to verify these reports and obtain access if they are indeed detained,” a spokesman for the American Embassy, Richard Buangan, said. “We’ve encouraged the Chinese government to demonstrate respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, of all people during the Olympic Games.”

Meanwhile, four protesters were arrested early yesterday after they unfurled a Tibetan flag outside the national stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, following an athletic competition, according to a group that organized the demonstration, Students for a Free Tibet. The AP said two of its photographers were “roughed up by plainclothes security officers” while trying to get pictures of the protest. The pair was forced into cars and taken away for questioning before being released, the wire service said. Memory cards from the photographers’ cameras were also confiscated, AP said.

Chinese officials promised “complete freedom” for journalists covering the Olympics, but press freedom groups have accused China of flagrantly breaching that promise and of being particularly tough on reporters who appear to be Asian.

Another protest broke out and was quickly stifled at the compound home to China’s top political leaders, Zhongnanhai. Eight people from Hong Kong angry about an alleged swindle were taken away about five minutes after displaying a sign saying, “Hong Kong Businesses Want Justice,” the wire service said.


Apple’s iTunes service has been blocked in China after it began selling a collection of Tibetan music compiled by a pro-Tibet group. The International Campaign for Tibet said at least 46 athletes downloaded “Songs for Tibet” after the group encouraged them to do so as a sign of solidarity with those protesting China’s treatment of the region.

“Netizens incensed over Tibet album on iTunes,” the headline on a report earlier this month on a state-run Web site, China.org.cn, said. The site said some Chinese planned a boycott, while others wanted to ban artists included on the album, such as Sting, John Mayer and Dave Matthews, from entering China.

Hostility from the Chinese Government or people could pose serious business problems for Apple, which recently opened its first store in Beijing and is negotiating to release its popular iPhone in China.


Foreigners are being swept up by Chinese police in a crackdown on Olympic ticket scalping, the state-run English newspaper, China Daily, is reporting. According to a police spokesman, 18 scalpers from abroad were deported or had their authorized stay in China shortened, while seven overseas nationals were put into detention, the newspaper said.

According to local press reports, about 100 Chinese nationals were arrested recently for reselling Olympic tickets above their face value, but some had complained that foreign ticket sellers were getting away scot free.

One Italian man, who was caught trying to sell a $44 ticket for the equivalent of $146, was ordered into five days detention, the newspaper said. He had 65 Olympic tickets in his possession.

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