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No human rights please, the IOC is a sports organisation

China's proposal to carry the Beijing Olympic torch through Taiwan and Tibet has focussed attention on China's human rights record, its occupation of Tibet and failure to support action over Sudan's behaviour in Darfur.

The Guardian reported on April 26th that Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, was reluctant to answer questions on human rights, despite earlier promising the IOC would speak out on human rights violations. He claimed the Games were 'a force for good wherever they are staged'. His colleague Hein Verbruggen fell back on the usual sporting justification that the IOC is not a political organisation and that it has brought positive change to China.

It is curious that the route of an inanimate object should stir up so much controversy when the treatment of people who have been evicted, beaten up, imprisoned and even killed to make way for this torch attracts so little attention.

In Britain London 2012 organisations expressed delight that the torch will visit London as part of the Beijing celebrations. No doubt if the wretched thing is dropped or goes out this will be the subject of serious press coverage and the IOC will launch an in-depth investigation.


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