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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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April 22, 2008 3:28 PM

At least one French guy will be at Beijing's Opening Ceremony

Posted by Ron Judd


If those rowdy demonstrations in Paris were any indication, a lot of French citizens aren't happy that the Olympics were handed to China.

But French business moguls? Not so much.

At least one of them, the head of "hypermarket" retail giant Carrefour, thinks the Chinese government is a perfectly fine organization, thank you very much (is this sounding familiar to any Americans?)

Yesterday, hoping to make nice after the Paris protests -- and threats of a retaliatory Chinese boycott of Carrefour's stores inside that country -- Carrefour planted a big smooch on the collective posterior of Chinese leadership, issuing not only a strong show of support for Beijing's Olympic effort, but also a condemnation of the radical idea of independence for Tibet.

The puckering up by Carrefour's CEO, Jose Luis Duran, came in a "special interview" granted to China's official news agency, Xinhua. He called any threatened boycotts of the Games or their ceremonies counterproductive, and vowed to be at the opening ceremony himself, according to Xinhua.

He also sought to squelch rumors that one or more major stockholders in Carrefour had donated money to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan religious leader, calling those reports "groundless lies."

China's Ministry of Commerce fell over itself relishing this giant suckage, saying it "welcomed these actions."

"We hope foreign-funded companies, including Carrefour, can do their utmost to provide quality services for Chinese consumers," an MOC official said in a statement.

Quid pro quo, no?

Carrefour happens to own 112 stores on the Chinese mainland. The company, according to the Chinese government, does nearly 30 billion yuan (about $4.3 billion U.S.) in annual sales in China -- 95 percent from products of Chinese manufacture.

Chinese citizens had threatened a 17-day boycott of Carrefour's stores during May -- a time period designed to mirror the period of the Olympics -- after the street-level mayhem accompanying the Olympic torch's visit to Paris. Hundreds of protestors carring Chinese flags and photos of the late Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong rallied outside a Carrefour store in Wuhan, in central Hubei province, last week, the Associated Press reported. And discontent was spreading to other Chinese cities.

Carrefour is the world's second largest mega-retailer, trailing only Wal-Mart, which is making its own aggressive efforts to expand into the lucrative Chinese market. Anyone want to speculate on Wal-Mart's stance on Chinese occupation of Tibet?

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.