THE 112TH International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Moscow today awarded the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing. The Chinese bid beat off competition from Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka.
Wang Wei, Secretary General of the Beijing Bid Committee, was in jubilant mood: "Our efforts have paid off. The world has come to understand Beijing and China better. There's a lot of hard work to do but I am confident we can hold an excellent Games. I think the world will come to understand us a lot better."
Beijing’s campaign had been dogged by allegations of a poor human rights record, but IOC Vice-President Dick Pound was hopeful that the decision may help lead to change in China: "The human rights problems remain an issue but it is more of a challenge and an opportunity for the Olympic movement to make a contribution to some of its own goals - which is to put sport at the service of mankind everywhere and maybe bring about some change."
MEANWHILE, SIMON Clegg, Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA), welcomed the decision: "It is quite obvious that the radical reforms put in place by the IOC following the Salt Lake City scandals have delivered a much more robust bidding process and this must be good news for the Olympic Movement and future bidding cities.
"The Beijing bid was always strong with excellent government support. The members of the IOC clearly placed sport above politics and no doubt hope that by awarding the Games to China that they will create a similar step change to that experienced in Korean society as a result of the 1988 Olympic Games. The BOA will start preparing immediately for these Games and to this end a senior member of our staff will be attached to the British Universities team competing in Beijing next month."
Clegg also said that the BOA would continue to work with the Government and the Greater London Authority concerning a potential London Bid for a subsequent Olympics. "The IOC’s decision to award the Games to Beijing is excellent news for European cities who hope to attract the 2012 Games. We expect that the final decision on whether we should bid or not will not be made until early next year."