Human rights must take centre stage in IOC: Rogge

May 3rd, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels, May 3 (DPA) Human rights must take centre stage in the future in the International Olympic Committee (IOC), its president Jacques Rogge said in the wake of the Tibet crisis ahead of the Beijing Games in August. Confronted with worldwide protests of China’s crushing of the unrest in Tibet in March, Rogge told Friday’s edition of Belgian daily Le Soir that the IOC must now reconsider its role in society.

“It seems to me established that the IOC is going to have to think about its role in society differently. We presently battle concretely against poverty, against natural disasters, for women’s rights in sports, the prevention of epidemics. That is no longer enough,” he said.

“We must now think of our activities in terms of human rights, while being aware of what are possibilities and our limits are,” said Rogge.

Human rights groups have been critical of Beijing hosting the Olympics ever since the IOC elected the Chinese capital in 2001. The pressure on the IOC grew when the Olympic year came and the Tibet situation than led to worldwide criticism of China and partly the IOC as well.

Rogge, who was elected IOC boss three days after Beijing’s choice, insisted he has talked about human rights with Chinese leaders throughout the past seven years but that he preferred a silent diplomacy, a move fully approved by the Olympic Movement and various experts on China.

“If I had mounted the barricades and cried out I would have been the hero of the occident (The West) but the Games would have been spoilt,” he said.

Rogge admitted to “a crisis” last month when the torch relay was marred by furious protests especially in London and Paris.

The Belgian IOC boss spoke of “a general crisis over the Tibet issue”. He added looking at the IOC: “It is a reputation crisis and not a functional crisis.”

Rogge reiterated that the Olympic Charter is based on human rights and other values, but that the IOC could not enforce them as a sports organisation.

The IOC boss expressed his scepticism whether athletes could wear a planned badge with the slogan “For a better world” in Olympic areas such as venues, winners podium and athletes’ village because it was a political statement.

The IOC Charter prohibits any kind of political statement in the Olympic Areas and athletes can face disqualification.

Looking at the Beijing Games in general, Rogge praised Chinese organisers.

“It is evident that the Games will be well organised. For the first time in a long time the IOC has a situation in which all venues are ready,” said Rogge.

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