Bahai News - IOC rejects role on rights

IOC rejects role on rights

Rogge says group is `a sports body' only

By JOHN PYE
Associated Press
Tuesday, August 28, 2001

The International Olympic Committee will not become a human rights watchdog.

"The IOC is not a political body; the IOC is a sports body," IOC President Jacques Rogge said Monday in Beijing. "Having an influence on human rights issues is the task of political organizations and human rights organizations.

"It is not the task of the IOC to get involved in monitoring, or in lobbying or in policing" human rights abuses.

Rogge spoke after flying to China to meet with organizers of the 2008 Summer Games. He is making a two-day visit to Beijing while it stages the World University Games.

Despite concerns over China's human rights record, Beijing was voted host of the 2008 Games. Beijing authorities are using the University Games as a showcase for their plans for 2008.

The IOC is looking to cut costs of the Summer Games, Rogge also said, and wants help from Beijing organizers.

"The IOC will study ways to reduce the costs and scale of these without touching the sporting side," he said. "We will not diminish the number of athletes or the number of sports. However, we can save money; we can make the games less complicated to organize."

Spiritual help: Olympic organizers have chosen 40 spiritual advisers to be on call during the 2002 Winter Games for competitors representing the world's nations and religions, whether it's a Buddhist bobsledder or a Catholic curler.

"Life continues on even though you're at the games," said Jan Saeed, chairwoman of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's Interfaith Roundtable and one of the newly appointed Olympic chaplains. "There are a lot of things that will be affecting these kids, so we'll be there to help."

The chaplains' duties will range from being host of the regular worship services at the Olympic village to celebrating with gold- medal competitors who want to give thanks for their achievement. Chaplains may even be called upon to counsel athletes who get bad news from home, thousands of miles away.

Either way, they'll perform a crucial service for the 2,500 athletes and 1,000 supporters staying at the Olympic Village.

The chaplains were chosen by religious and lay leaders from the Salt Lake area who make up SLOC's Interfaith Roundtable. There are Catholic priests, a Jewish rabbi, an Islamic imam and Protestant ministers from several denominations. Also on the list are a Buddhist, a Christian Scientist, a Quaker, a Seventh-Day Adventist and two Mormon bishops. Saeed represents the Baha'i faith.

Bonspieling goes Hollywood: Curling organizers are turning to actors Leslie Nielsen ("Airplane," "Naked Gun") and Paul Gross (TV's "Due South") to teach fans about their sport.

Nielsen and Gross have agreed to be the hosts of a USA Curling film titled "Rink & Rock: The World of Curling." In addition, athletes from other sports will join eight potential U.S. Olympic curlers to explain the sport. Those scheduled to participate include short-track speedskater Andy Gabel of Pewaukee and skeleton racer and Milwaukee native Tricia Stumpf, as well as curlers Erika Brown of Madison, Tracy Sachtjen of Lodi and Cory Ward of Eau Claire.

Filming will begin Sept. 7 and 8 in Ogden, Utah, with plans for the program to be broadcast nationally and internationally this fall.

Nielsen and Gross are involved because they are working on motion picture about curling titled "Men with Brooms," scheduled for release next February.

Meanwhile, six of the 12 teams qualified for the 2002 U.S. curling trials will compete in a "Skins Game" Sept. 7-9 at the summer training facility in Rice Lake. Among teams competing will be one skipped by Lori Mountford of Madison.

Vaulting to the Hill: She's gone from doing backflips for Bela Karolyi to making copies for John McCain.

But Kerri Strug, the heroine of the 1996 U.S. gymnastics team, is content just being one of the thousands of interns who perform the menial tasks that keep government moving.

"My goal was just to come here and learn more about our government system, because when I was in gym I worried about gym and my gym world and that was about it," Strug said. "Now I'm trying to learn more and expand my horizons, I guess."

For the last eight weeks, she has commuted from the Washington suburbs to Capitol Hill for her internship in the office of McCain, an Arizona Republican.

Her duties are mundane enough: replying to constituent letters, making copies and answering phones.

It's far different from the feat she accomplished five years ago at the Atlanta Olympics. Strug landed her final vault on an injured leg -- she had torn two ligaments and sprained the ankle in a fall on her first vault -- helping the U.S. women's team win the all-around competition for the first time.

Strug's real interest is not politics. After a one-year graduate program at Stanford, she wants to teach and then possibly go into advertising.

She no longer competes, but stays physically active, having run the Houston marathon twice.

Try, try again: Hungary's federal government will submit a bid to play host to the 2012 Summer Olympics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week.

Hungary will make its eighth attempt, and first since 1960, to be an Olympic host. The IOC will select a 2012 host in 2005.

Hungary is scheduled to play host to the world gymnastics championships next year and the indoor athletic world championship in 2004.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.


©Copyright 2001, Associated Press

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