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Sunday, July 15, 2001

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'Olympic sponsors must force change in China'

NEW YORK, JULY 14. Human Rights Watch has said that Friday's selection of Beijing as the site for the 2008 Olympics put a major burden on the International Olympic Committee and the Games' corporate sponsors to make the Games a force for change in China.

``The IOC didn't even try to get guarantees on human rights'', said Mr. Sidney Jones, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch. ``If abuses take place as preparations for the Games proceed, it won't be just the Chinese authorities who will look bad - the IOC and the corporate sponsors will be complicit''.

Mr. Jones said the challenges now were how to hold China to its pre-selection promises, how to prevent abuses linked directly to the Games, and how to use the Games to press for human rights improvements over the next seven years.

Chinese officials responsible for the Olympic bid promised during a press conference in Moscow on Thursday that journalists would be able to report on anything, anywhere in China, before and during the Games. ``When the first journalist gets stopped, who's going to remind China of the pledge and insist that they honour it?'' Mr. Jones asked.

He noted that corporations could play a useful role in a variety of ways.

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