Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2000 Olympics Might Give China a Clue

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2000 Olympics Might Give China a Clue

Article excerpt

Issue No. 1:

China's controversial effort to play host to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The opposition argues, with merit, that China's disturbing history of human-rights violations should exclude it from enjoying the prestige and profits generated by the Games.

The U.S. Congress, by 287-99 vote, adopted a resolution opposing Beijing's bid. This seems incongruous. Human rights violations? You mean, like the Rodney King beating? Or Kent State? Or the move by state legislatures to repeal anti-discrimination laws that protect homosexuals?

And what about our government's trade policy with China? International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch discussed that contradiction in an interview with a French newspaper.

"We find it difficult to understand why a country that has given China most favored nation status to develop its trade with it, asks us not to give it the Games," Samaranch said.

It is unwise to mix sports and politics. But it is impossible for the IOC to be truly apolitical. Samaranch has displayed a deft touch at orchestrating difficult mergers between sports and government.

The IOC believes that the 1988 Seoul Olympics motivated South Korea to introduce political and economic reforms. Samaranch supported South Africa's readmission into the Olympics, an obvious reward for white government's decision to phase out apartheid.

Samaranch saw to it that the newly formed - and disorganized - coalition of independent Soviet republics could compete in the 1992 Barcelona Games. With civil war ravaging the former Yugoslavia, Samaranch sanctioned teams representing Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The IOC, which Thursday will choose Beijing or one of four other cities as the site for the Games in 2000, has emerged as a force that can effect positive change. China's ruling Communist Party is repressive. But the presence of the Olympics could expedite China's advances in raising the standard of living for its people. The hope - which may be naive - is that putting the Games in Beijing will prompt closer scrutiny and induce more dramatic reforms.

Issue No. 2:

The Civic Progress bailout of the St. …

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