2008 Olympic Games - Call for human rights issues to be part of assigning future Olympics

    MONTREAL, June 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today urged
leaders of the Olympic Movement to start considering respect for human rights
and freedom of expression in awarding future Olympic Games so as to avoid the
kind of controversy that has enveloped the Beijing Olympics which opens in two
months time.
    "Discussion of the criteria for assigning future Olympics must begin now
if a new Beijing Games situation is to be avoided in years to come," the
worldwide press freedom organisation said. "Candidate cities already have to
meet clear technical, material and environmental conditions to be to awarded
the Games, so why not add respect for freedom of expression in the host
    "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) could, for example, take into
account whether independent media outlets exist, as well as the degree of
censorship and how far local and foreign journalists are allowed to move
    "The Olympic Charter encourages respect for human dignity but to achieve
that, sport is not enough. It must include the rule of law, universal
democratic values and basic individual rights. The IOC must start focusing on
this and national Olympic committees must back it or the Games may be awarded
for 12 or 16 years from now to another country that does not respect human
    "The IOC would greatly enhance its reputation by announcing immediately
that it would consider including human rights in future awarding of the Games
to host cities. It would thus regain the legitimacy it has lost in recent
months," Reporters Without Borders said.
    Official IOC documents state that host cities must respect the Olympic
Charter and the movement's Code of Ethics, which says "the Olympic parties are
free to play a role in the public life of the states to which they belong" but
"may not engage in any activity or follow any ideology inconsistent with the
principles and rules defined in the Olympic Charter."
    The present criteria for awarding the Games include support of the
government for holding of the Games on its soil, the overall state of sports
infrastructure and facilities, provision of suitable housing for athletes and
delegations, the environmental impact of the Games, the safety of athletes and
spectators, past experience in organising sports events, the funding available
to a candidate city and the facilities will that remain after the end of the
    The IOC executive may also, at its "sole discretion," add any other
criterion considered useful in choosing the host city.
    About 100 journalists, cyber-dissidents, bloggers and other Internet
users are currently imprisoned in China. The Chinese government has not kept
any of the promises it made to improve human rights after Beijing was awarded
the 2008 Games in 2001. Reporters Without Borders therefore calls on all heads
of state and government and members of royal families to boycott the opening
ceremony of the Games on 8 August.

    For more on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide campaign concerning
the 2008 Games, see: www.rsf.org (in English, Chinese, Spanish, French and

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org. Don't wait to be deprived of information to stand
up and fight for it.

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