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Olympic chiefs meet over relay -

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Olympic chiefs meet over relay

The World Today - Thursday, 10 April , 2008 12:13:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ASHLEY HALL: Olympic chiefs are now meeting in Beijing and the future of the torch relay is high on
their agenda.

The IOC President Jacques Rogge has clearly been stung by the San Francisco stage of the relay -
this morning he said it was not the "joyous" event he had hoped for.

In Australia, pro-Tibet activists are refusing to take responsibility for the damage the protests
are causing the image of Olympics.

And they're continuing to plan for protests in Canberra, when the Olympic flame arrives in a
fortnight for the only Australian leg of the relay.

Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: The death knell for the international element of the Olympic torch relay has been
sounded. Former and current Olympic officials are now leading the call for future relays to stay in
the host country.

A recent vice-president of the IOC, Dick Pound, told ABC local radio this morning that the
international relay must go.

DICK POUND: I think a torch relay in the host country is a wonderful thing but the costs, the
logistics, the risks and the very small rewards of having an international relay just, to my mind,
have never been worth it and they certainly don't seem to be worth it on this occasion.

KAREN BARLOW: Dick Pound is not just focusing on the current public relations mess with China.

DICK POUND: You know, from time to time, you are going to pick a host country that has some
controversy attached to it and certainly China does as did Korea as did Moscow and so forth so that
is not the point. I think it is better to spend your money as an organising committee and a
sponsor, doing something that really actually helps the games rather than gives you a PR buzz for
half a day in 12 different countries.

KAREN BARLOW: Dick Pound knows about the IOC taking a risk with China by announcing Beijing in 2001
as a 2008 host city. At the time he was quoted as saying the Beijing choice was a gamble with
potentially a huge pay-off.

The Australian Tibet Council says China has now had six years to prove it was going to do something
about human rights concerns but the Council says China and the IOC have sat on their hands.

The activists say any damage to the Olympic brand through protests is not their fault.

The head of the Tibetan community in Canberra, Tsering Deki.

TSERING DEKI: I think the Olympics, of course, like the Olympics you know, are, it's like it
symbolises, you know, like equality, freedom and harmony and freedom for everybody but that is not
the situation in Tibet.

And so that is our point, you know like, to raise awareness about all that is happening in Tibet
and the Olympics are going to be held in China.

But if, you know, like the international community doesn't do anything, you know, to highlight all
the issues in Tibet and human rights issues, I think it just sort of shows the world that the world
is quite happy for China to have the Olympics but, and you know, do your, like have poor human
rights record but it is OK, you know. Sport is sport and like the people in Tibet, they're
suffering. That's like different and so it's I think very difficult to say that the protests are
actually causing some damage to the Olympic, to the Olympics.

KAREN BARLOW: So you're holding human rights above sport, above the Olympics?

TSERING DEKI: Not above it but we are just saying, we are not saying that the Olympics should be
boycotted or anything like that because you must have heard that His Holiness Dalai Lama has said
that the Olympics should not be boycotted and he is not even calling for anybody to boycott the
Olympics.

He says that the people of China, they deserve to hold the Olympics.

KAREN BARLOW: Canberra protests are still being planned for and protesters say one tactic will be
to turn their back on the flame as it goes past.

Tsering Deki says she wants it to be peaceful.

TSERING DEKI: We want to make our voices heard because I think if we are not the voice for the
people inside Tibet, there is nobody else so we have to do whatever we can within Australian law to
raise awareness and tell them what is happening in Tibet and urge the international community and
all the Australians to understand the situation is not like just you know, it's just not like their
not respecting the torch or anything like that. We respect that.

KAREN BARLOW: Canberra organisers of the torch relay are disappointed by the San Francisco leg of
the relay and say they are learning from the experience.

The Chairman of the Canberra relay task force, Ted Quinlan.

TED QUINLAN: We've got about a fortnight to go and we've got a lot of planning to do to make sure
that we can, in fact, minimise that level of disappointment that is coming through from San
Francisco and in fact, we can maximise the positive sides of the torch relay and the spreading of
the Olympic spirit because the Olympic spirit doesn't belong to China.

It belongs to the world and it is a positive and unifying force.

ASHLEY HALL: The Chairman of the Canberra relay task force Ted Quinlan ending that report from
Karen Barlow.