Olympics chief: Relay in a 'crisis'

Crisis. Disarray. Sadness.

Four months before the opening of what was supposed to be the grandest Olympics in history, the head of the International Olympic Committee is using words that convey anything but a sense of joyous enthusiasm.

IOC president Jacques Rogge spoke in Beijing on Thursday.

On the torch relay

"It is a crisis, there is no doubt about that. But the IOC has weathered many bigger storms."

He cited previous crises — the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1976, 1980 and 1984 boycotts.

On China's role

"I would definitely ask China to respect this moral engagement," to improve human rights and to fulfill promises of greater media freedom. When Beijing was seeking the games, Rogge noted, Chinese officials said the Olympics would help advance social change, including human rights. He called that a "moral engagement" and stressed there was no "contractual promise whatsoever" on human rights in the official host city contract.

On second thoughts

"I've said that it is very easy with hindsight to criticize the decision. It's easy to say now that this was not a wise and a sound decision."

But Rogge insisted Beijing had "clearly the best bid" and offered the strong pull of taking the Olympics to a country with one-fifth of the world's population.

>>fast facts

Torch relay

Argentina: The Olympic flame arrived in Buenos Aires Thursday under heavy security from San Francisco. Officials have mobilized 1,800 police and some 3,000 traffic police and volunteers.

Tanzania: Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai of Kenya said Thursday she would not run in the relay in Tanzania this weekend, in protest of China's human-rights abuses and destruction of the environment.

Olympics chief: Relay in a 'crisis' 04/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:31am]

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