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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 30, 2008 9:00 AM

Beijing: Shades of Hitler's Olympics?

Posted by Ron Judd

As we reach the 100 days countdown to Beijing, a news roundup:

-- A group of Jewish leaders has called for a boycott of the Beijing Games, alleging that the Chinese government is using them as a public-relations screen to shroud blatant human-rights abuses -- just as Adolf Hitler did with the Berlin Games of 1936. In an AP story, Eric Gorski reports that 175 rabbis, seminary officials and other prominent Jewish leaders have signed a declaration urging Jews worldwide to boycott the Games because of China's human-rights record in general, and in Tibet in particular. The statement also accuses China's leadership of providing missiles to Iran and Syria, and maintaining a "friendship" with Hamas.

-- Speaking of human rights, or lack thereof: Nice to see that the Beijing torch procession has finally found a place it can travel in comfort, with none of those nasty protests: North Korea. Maybe they should've run the entire thing there.

-- And speaking of the torch: Nominated for Worst Assignment of the Century is the job of being a journalist assigned to cover the Olympic flame's historic ascent up Mount Everest. In a report here, journos complain of being virtually imprisoned in a remote camp far from Everest's base camp, allowed no freedom of movement and no access to climbers.

"If anything happens, we're supposed to miss it," one of them notes wryly.

No word, meanwhile, on whether the flame will use supplemental oxygen to get to the top. But the Chinese have divulged how they'll get it out of a high-tech lantern and into a full-blown, photographable flame in the almost non-existing oxygen on the summit: rocket fuel. No joke. The ascension of the flame to the top of the world will make history not only for its sheer stupidity, but for being the first time the Olympic flame has employed "missile technology," some Chinese officials are crowing.

Given that the nation's bad rep around the world is partly owing to its generous sharing of that very missile technology, you have to wonder: Who's handling PR for the Chinese government these days? The Rev. Jeremiah Wright? And why do we get the feeling that, before this is all over, we're going to have to dispatch Ed Viesturs to go over and rescue these guys?


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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.