Beijing organisers have come up with a way to dodge uncomfortable questions – cancelling the daily press conferences.
Past Olympics have always had a daily news conference where both the IOC and the local organisers are available for questioning.
A week of tough scrutiny has proved too much for the Chinese – they cancelled both conferences at the weekend, and have now done the same for the events planned for tomorrow and Thursday.
At the conference today, Wang Wei, the executive vice-president of the Beijing organising committee, was unable to provide answers about the numbers of people given permission to stage protests in the special ‘protest zones’ set up at the Games.
It is suspected that the Chinese government have not authorised any protests whatsoever.
Games organisers promised to provide the answer more than a week ago but Wang said he was still waiting for a reply from the authorities.
Wang was also unable to answer queries about the accreditation of a Tibetan-born journalist from Washington-based Radio Free Asia.
The IOC approved the request of Dhondup Gonzar months ago but the Chinese government have stalled ever since, and again Wang said the matter was still “being processed”.
IOC communications director Giselle Davies said: “We have sought further information on this and would very much encourage more details to be provided as soon as possible.”
Wang was asked afterwards whether the views he expressed were his personal ones or the government’s and replied: “They are indistinguishable.”
- Organisers go to extraordinary lengths to prevent the names of non-Olympic sponsors gaining any of the reflected limelight from the Games so there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Usain Bolt brandished his Puma running shoe for the TV cameras after winning the 100m. Olympic sponsors Adidas have not officially complained to the IOC but it is understood representations have been made to try to stop the Jamaican doing the same thing after the 200m.
- A day after Michael Phelps was described as `something of an extra terrestrial’ by FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu, Chinese media were trying to determine whether Ben Ainslie was also from another planet. After claiming his third Olympic sailing gold and fourth medal overall with a decisive victory in the Finn class in Qingdao, the Briton was questioned on his human credentials. “Do you think that yourself you are a superman or an ET from another planet?” asked an intrepid Xinhua reporter in the post-race press conference. Residents of Lymington concerned that they may be living on the same street as an alien can set their minds at rest. “As far as I know, I’m human,” Ainslie responded.