SCMP Monday, July 16, 2001
Beijing wins Olympics
MARK O'NEILL in Moscow, BILL KAZER in Beijing, other STAFF REPORTERS and AGENCIES
Updated at 4.28pm, Saturday:
Jubilation swept the mainland and Hong Kong yesterday as millions of Chinese took to the streets to celebrate Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.
After suffering a heart-breaking defeat when losing the 2000 Games to Sydney eight years ago, Beijing was a clear winner in the second round of voting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Moscow.
Beijing received 56 of the 105 valid votes in the second round, with Toronto on 22, Paris 18, and Istanbul nine.
The Japanese city of Osaka was eliminated in the first round with six votes. Japan's top government spokesman was quoted on Saturday as expressing disappointment about the unsuccessful bid but he said Japan would now focus on supporting victorious Beijing.
''We are very disappointed that Japan's enthusiasm was not reflected in the voting results,'' spokesman Yasuo Fukuda was quoted as saying in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
''From now on, we would like to co-operate fully with the Chinese government to help make the Olympics in Beijing a success.''
In Moscow's World Trade Centre, Chinese officials erupted with screams and tears and unfurled a Chinese flag when IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch announced Beijing had won. Their joy was echoed in Beijing, when a huge cheer went up over the Millennium Monument.
Thousands of people danced and jumped with joy under a dazzling display of fireworks.
On TV screens, Vice-Premier Li Lanqing, who was in Moscow drumming up support, was seen jumping and slapping the back of delegates. "We have won at last," Mr Li said.
About 30 minutes after the announcement, President Jiang Zemin appeared at the monument, along with other state and party leaders.
In a brief televised speech Mr Jiang offered his congratulations to the people of Beijing and promised an all-out effort to stage a successful Games.
"Comrades, I congratulate you on the successful bid," he said, nearly losing his voice as he thanked the nation for its support. "I would like to express my thanks to friends all over the world for their support for the bid," he shouted.
In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said last night he was "very moved" by the news. "Tonight, it is a wish comes true for 1.2 billion Chinese that Beijing has been chosen to host the Games," he said from San Francisco.
The losing candidates gave mixed reactions in Moscow. "The IOC evaluation commission said we had a top quality bid. There's a discrepancy between the number of votes we got and the quality of our presentation," said French IOC member Henri Serandour.
Toronto officials were disappointed but not surprised. "We knew Beijing had a lot of strengths, it was theirs all along," said Paul Henderson, head of the losing 1996 bid.
The secretary-general of the IOC last night warned the victorious Beijing delegation that human rights would remain an issue during the seven years they had to prepare for the Games. Francois Carrard congratulated Beijing but reminded it not to forget the weak link in their bid. "We are aware that one issue is on the table, that of human rights. This is a very serious issue in the world," he said.
In Beijing, sources said a midnight Politburo meeting was called at the leaders' compound, Zhongnanhai, to map out the theme and spirit of a week-long celebration next week.
The margin of victory was larger and the speed of it quicker than anyone had expected, after a dramatic day in which each candidate rolled out its biggest guns during hour-long presentations to the IOC members.
A few hours before the voting, Chinese officials including Vice-Premier Li, made a last push for Beijing in front of the 100-odd IOC members.
Beijing's Olympic bidders urged them to help promote social and economic change by awarding the Games to China.
The vote was a personal victory for Mr Samaranch, a strong supporter of Beijing who wanted the IOC to award it the Games in 1993 when it lost by two votes to Sydney. He leaves office on Monday, giving way to a new president.
However, not everyone was celebrating. US-based dissidents last night condemned the choice of Beijing.
Tim Cooper, a spokesman for the exiled China Democracy Party, said: "We believe the IOC has torched the issue of human rights in China. It will become a human rights free-for-all."
Sidney Jones, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, warned that the IOC decision placed a heavy burden on both the IOC and its corporate backers to force change ahead of the Games.
"If abuses take place as the Games proceed, it won't just be the Chinese authorities who will look bad - the IOC and its corporate sponsors will be complicit," he said.