Olympic Games: Peking's bid under scrutiny

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

PEKING and Berlin were the first of the eight cities aiming to stage the 2000 Olympic Games to hold press conferences about their bids in Barcelona yesterday. However, both events were marked by controversy as officials from Peking defended China's human rights record and the Berlin committee denied accusations that they had compiled dossiers on International Olympic Committee members.

Peking, which hosted the 1990 Asian Games and is a favourite along with Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, portrayed its blueprint as an opportunity to cement China's opening to the world and internal economic reforms. It was suggested that Hong Kong and Taiwan could be used as Olympic venues if their bid succeeds.

However, its committee faced a barrage of questions from Western journalists about human rights, lack of multi-party democracy and the crushing in 1989 of student-led protests in Tiananmen Square. 'The Chinese people have almost forgotten Tiananmen Square,' Zhang Baifa, chief executive of the Peking committee, said.

Berlin, which announced its bid in 1990 soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, had also been favoured but its campaign hit trouble this month when a German television programme said officials had compiled intimate dossiers on the lives of IOC members with the intention of using them to bribe members when they decided on the 2000 Games venue.

Axel Nawrocki, the Berlin committee's chief executive, said a pilot project was run a year ago but all data had been destroyed. 'The files do not exist. They have never existed,' he said.

The Berlin mayor, Eberhard Diepgen, urged rival bidders to fight clean. 'We want fair play and friendly respect,' he said.

The IOC will choose the 2000 Games host at a meeting in Monte Carlo in September next year. The other candidates are: Brasilia, Istanbul, Manchester, Milan, Sydney and Tashkent.