Home News Chinese official, IO...

Chinese official, IOC on the defensive

Aug. 14, 2008, 6:08 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) A top Beijing organizing committee official again defended the IOC's decision to award the Olympics to Beijing, arguing the games allow foreigners to see China's three decades of rapid change.

BOCOG executive vice president Wang Wei usually limits himself to brief responses at the daily Olympic news conference. On Thursday, he offered a passionate, 3-minute defense after a British television journalist repeatedly asked International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies if organization was "embarrassed" about bringing the games to China.

Wang, sitting next to Davies, spoke up in a contentious news conference that centered on issues of press freedom, protests and British TV journalist John Ray, who was detained Wednesday trying to cover a pro-Tibet group's demonstration. An official from the spokesman's office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau said officers mistook him for an activist.

"During the bid I was the secretary general of the bidding committee," said Wang, who attended Rutgers University. "I was confronted with many questions about the opening up and reform of China. And I did say that the Olympic Games coming to China will help China to open up further and to reform."

China's authoritarian government and the IOC repeatedly have said the games would open the country to social change and stoke breakthroughs on religious freedom and the treatment of the country's minorities.

Wang said millions of Chinese are living better lives, but "of course there are exceptions like in any other country. Some people are not satisfied. That is true."

He said officials welcomed constructive advice.

"I think a few, a very few people, come here to speak, to be critical, to dig into the small details," Wang said. "To find fault. ... That does not mean we are not fulfilling our promise."

"I did not say that China will promise to do whatever with the games coming to China. I did not say that. But I say the games will open up the horizon about China. People will see better for themselves what China is like."