Rogge treads careful path in acclaiming Beijing milestone

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The Independent Online

Four days before the opening ceremony, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the Beijing Olympics will be a historic milestone, affirming China's transformation on the world stage.

In a speech at the opening ceremony of the Olympic body yesterday, Rogge steered clear of any of the contentious issues surrounding the games such as air pollution, human rights and media freedom.

"China's role as our Olympic host has opened a window to the world's most populous nation," Rogge said, then added that the games were a "landmark event" for the Olympic movement, hosted by a country with nearly 20 percent of the world's population. One billion television viewers are expected to watch live coverage of the opening ceremony, he said.

Rogge noted that the games will feature a record 205 Olympics teams and he also referred to the "unprecedented effort" against doping with more tests than ever before.

The Italian fencer, Andrea Baldini, who failed a dope test last month, had the presence of a banned substance confirmed in his B-sample, the Italian fencing federation confirmed yesterday.