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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Chinese and IOC officials give media short shrift

August 19, 2008

Jacquelin Magnay, Beijing
The Age (Australia)
August 18, 2008

BEIJING Olympic officials and the International Olympic Committee
believe there is no news to talk about.

Not even a congratulatory note about the incredible achievements of
Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. Nor a comment about stripping a medal
off a Swedish Graeco-Roman wrestler because they believed he had made
a political demonstration. Nor a word about defending Olympic 400
metres hurdles champion Fani Halkia, of Greece, testing positive to drugs.

For the second day in a row, the two organisations have cancelled a
scheduled joint press conference.

The IOC press commission chairman Kevan Gosper rejected suggestions
that the cone of silence that has enveloped the Games in Beijing was
in any way connected to the non-Olympic issues raised at successive
conferences last week.

Beijing officials had bristled at the increasingly hostile questions
about Tibet, Falun Gong, visa restrictions on journalists and protest
parks, claiming the Western media was nitpicking.

Mr Gosper said there was no press conferences over the weekend
because the co-ordination commission, which is a joint meeting of
Beijing and IOC officials, had not met over the weekend. He said the
press conference was not a forum for issues to be raised, but was
rather driven by the IOC and Beijing officials for when they have
news. "So it is good news there is no news," he said.

Yet late on Saturday the IOC ethics commission and executive board
met and made a serious decision, disqualifying and stripping a
medallist of his result. Ara Abrahamian, of Sweden, was told to leave
the Olympic village immediately and had his bronze medal in
Graeco-Roman wrestling cancelled because he had walked to the centre
of the mat and placed his medal on the floor during the medal
presentation. He believed judging errors had cost him a gold medal.
The IOC issued an email of the decision.

IOC officials had also met to discuss the positive result of an IOC
test, conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Halkia during
pre-Games training in Japan. Halkia was also told to leave the
Olympic village pending the B test result.

IOC communications director Giselle Davies said the cancellation of
yesterday's conference was because the 11am time conflicted with
Michael Phelps' attempts to become the most successful Olympic
swimmer in history and Beijing officials could not find time later in the day.

"We cancelled as a number of your colleagues told us yesterday that
there was little or no interest in a presser at the time of Phelps'
and the other swimming events," Davies told The Age in an email.

And late last night, Beijing Olympics spokesman Sun Weide responded
to a series of written questions posed by The Age. He said initial
cancellation was because the Games operations were going smoothly and
the second cancellation was because "there was growing interest in
being able to cover the swimming session that was held at about the
same time, and we were unable to reschedule".
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