Organisers distribute 400,000 condoms to promote safe sex (Olympic sidelights)

August 16th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) More than 400,000 condoms and some 250,000 copies of the AIDS prevention pamphlet have been placed in hotel rooms across Beijing. A quarter of the condoms, 100,000, were allocated to the Olympic Village, he said. The free condoms and leaflets have been distributed throughout the Olympic Village and hundreds of Beijing hotels in a bid to promote awareness of the disease, according to the city’s health chief who held a press conference Friday.

Since their first Olympic appearance at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, free condoms have become a regular feature of the global sports event.

Beijing has a comprehensive network, comprising 69 clinics and 128 laboratories, for reporting and monitoring HIV and AIDS in the city. In the first half of the year, 489 new cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in the city, down slightly on the same period last year, he said.

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Foreigners among scalpers nailed by police

A good number of foreigners have been arrested under charges of scalping. For the past few days, many foreigners, who seemed to have a large number of tickets, have been seen selling those for swimming and basketball for prices as high as five to 10 times than the face value.

On Friday, local media reported that Beijing police had rounded up 110 foreign and Chinese Olympic ticket scalpers in a series of raids.

About 340 tickets were confiscated and all the suspects were taken to police stations for questioning, according to Wang Wenjie, a senior police officer with the city’s public security bureau, quoted by China Daily.

Some of the alleged scalpers are from overseas, said the police, but did not give numbers on how many.

The press release from the bureau mentioned one foreigner was accused of selling 24 tickets near the Water Cube for up to 10 times their face value.

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Italian swimmer catches Kobe Bryant’s attention

Kobe Bryant, one of the most high-profile athletes at the Games, wants to get to know the Italian swimmer, Federica Pellegrini, who won the 200m freestyle event in a world record time this week. Bryant, who is living outside the Village, but has been seen at some of the events, is said to have been impressed by her.

According to a local paper, the already married star said, “She really did a good job. I want to know her.”

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IOC upset at Wrestler throwing his medal down

Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian could face some action from the International Olympic Committee for throwing down his Olympic bronze medal in protest, after his bid for a Greco-Roman gold was ended by a decision, which his coach had labeled as “politics”.

Abrahamian took the bronze from around his neck during the medal ceremony, but dropped it in the middle of the wrestling mat and then walked off. Abrahamian also announced he was quitting the sport.

Abrahamian shouted at the referee and judges, then went over to their seats to continue his shouting. Abrahamian was upset at the judges decision over his semi-final loss to the eventual gold medallist Italy’s Andrea Minguzzi.

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Olympic tickets for quitting smoking

A Beijing man, who vowed to give up smoking, was given a free ticket to watch the men’s volleyball Saturday night at the Capital Stadium.

The reward was given by an anti-smoking campaigner Xiong Wei who last week placed an advertisement in the Beijing News offering free Olympic tickets to ten smokers who promised to quit.

Xiong said he received 132 applications within 40 hours of his advertisement being placed.

He said applicants were asked to enter the “competition” by e-mailing their names, occupations and who they worked for - for reasons of public supervision - and smoking history.

The 10 winners -who have good educational backgrounds - were those who doled out most convincing quitting strategies.

“People are still sending me e-mails vowing to quit, but I have no more tickets,” Xiong told China Daily.

He said he signed agreements with nine of the 10 winners Wednesday, binding them to the terms of the deal.

If any of them start smoking again, they must publish a written apology in the Beijing News and refund the price of the ticket, he said.

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UN official condemns Western media bias

Wilfried Lemke, special advisor on sport for development and peace to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, has criticised the western media for taking a prejudiced stand on China.

“I am very disappointed by some articles about China and the criticism of the Games,” Lemke said.

“For example, I read that the sun never shines in Beijing, but when I look out of my window, there it is. I really hope they understand why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was right to bring the Games to Beijing, because China will definitely be more open afterward,” he said. Lemke said China has developed a lot since winning the right to host the Olympics.

“One only has to see the skyline of Beijing to realise the giant strides the country has made,” he said.

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Chinese heritage through exhibition

China, being the Olympic host, is making every effort to familiarise the world with its rich past. Thirty white huts, nowadays, dot the east side of the Olympic Centre District in a bid to showcase the country’s diverse traditional culture.

The exhibition entitled China Stories aims to promote Chinese culture and heritage, including folk customs, dance, music and handicrafts from nearly all of the country’s 30 provinces.

The huts, referred to as xiangyun (auspicious cloud), are sectioned off into corners representing different provinces and autonomous regions in China. Organised by The Ministry of Culture and the Beijing Organising Committee, the exhibition, which opened to the public on Aug 8, will last until the end of the Paralympics.

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