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IOC pleased with Games preparations
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The International Olympic Committee is pleased with Beijing's overall preparations for next week's summer Games, while the controversial Internet access issue has been quickly addressed, a senior IOC official said on Saturday.

"There's certainly no anxiety about Beijing's venue construction or infrastructure improvement," said IOC Press Commission Chairman Kevan Gosper. "We tested the operational capacity of Beijing Games organizers during a series of test events last year, the Good Luck Beijing, and got good results."

As to the controversy over certain Internet restrictions in Beijing over the past week, Gosper said the IOC and the Beijing Games organizers had reached understanding that there should be "uncensored reports of the Games".

"There was the anxiety this week that websites that were reasonable to be opened for the Games reporting were closed," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. "We addressed the issue quickly with BOCOG and these sites are now being opened."

Gosper said every country in the world has a degree of censorship on communication, including porn websites and sites that are considered "politically subversive" or "putting national interest at risk".

"Wherever you go in the world, you'll always get censorship in some form. What's important is that censorship didn't impede on the justifiable ground for Internet access for reporting the Games. I'm saying this because now we're moving in that direction."

He praised the Chinese government for having "lived up to its responsibility" by revising regulations in January 2007 to give international journalists more freedom in reporting the Games.

Gosper said he was very impressed by the professional abilities of BOCOG, and its "readiness to work in a cooperative way with the international Olympic community."

"Over the seven years that we've been working together, we've always been able to get results that we're both comfortable with," he said, adding that misunderstanding and disagreements, which happened rarely, were always solved easily among the professional people.

Before his interview with Xinhua, Gosper said at a press conference on Saturday there was no strain in the working relationship between BOCOG and the IOC. "At the end of the day, BOCOG will fall into line with IOC requirements."

Gosper said he was confident the Beijing Games would be the "biggest meeting ever in history on the globe between the East and West."

"I'm very confident that when the eighth of August comes next Friday, it would be the opening of one of the greatest games of all time," he told Xinhua.

The Australian national who claimed to have visited China up to 50 times said he had witnessed the rapid social and economic development here.

"The rate of physical development is the most obvious change... and there're also changes in social activities and the people's dress, relaxation, communication and their awareness of the Olympic movement," he said.

"Many things in social and economic terms have changed in the past seven years (since Beijing won the bid to host the Games in 2001) and the changes are drastic over the past 30 years -- statistically 400 million people have been brought out of poverty over that period. That's astonishing."

Gosper spoke highly of Beijing's efforts to improve its air quality, saying the city had spent US$17 billion to curb pollution, which would leave an important legacy for the city and the whole country.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2008)

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