Samaranch: Beijing Olympics are no risk
Former Olympic supremo Juan Antonio Samaranch has dismissed concern from human rights activists around the Beijing Olympics in August.26 February 2008
MADRID - Former Olympic supremo Juan Antonio Samaranch has dismissed concern from human rights activists around the Beijing Olympics in August.
Samaranch said in an interview with Wednesday's edition of Spanish sports daily Marca that it was no risk to award the Games to Beijing in 2001, and that China has become more open and has undergone radical changes in the past years.
"It was a risk to give Moscow the 1980 Games. The regime in China was and is more open than the one in the former Soviet Union," Samaranch told Marca.
"There is a stock exchange and millionaires, there is simply everything. Around 500-600 million of the 1.2 billion Chinese should be much better off than a few years ago."
The statements came in the wake of concerns from human rights groups in recent months. Politicians and Olympians have been urged to stand tough against China on issues ranging from the death penalty to freedom of speech.
Samaranch led the IOC 1980-2001 and is now an honorary IOC president. The Spaniard was a big supporter of Beijing's bid and the Chinese capital was elected 2008 host at the IOC Session in Moscow, four days before Jacques Rogge succeeded Samarach as IOC boss.
[Copyright dpa 2008]