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IOC Chief Warns Against Complacency
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Preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are going well, but International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge cautioned organizers not to let their guard down until the end of the Games Monday.

"The main challenge is that BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad) and the people of China remain focused on the success of the Games," Rogge told China Daily while attending the Fifth World Forum on Sport, Education and Culture in Beijing.

"The main danger is complacency and a belief that all things are OK. You have to stay focused until the closing ceremony of the Games," he said.

Designed to update IOC officials on preparations for the Games, the three-day Seventh plenary session of the IOC Co-ordination Commission starts today.

Rogge said he was satisfied with Beijing's preparatory work so far.

"So far, I'm extremely happy. BOCOG is doing an excellent job," he said.

But he refused to compare the capital's efforts with previous Games or give marks.

"I don't think you can give marks because giving marks is comparing with other Games and you cannot compare with Games that are held at a different time, in a different country, with a different political, economic and cultural environment," he said.

"So, we are happy but we won't give a mark for our happiness."

About two years ago, when construction workers had just broke ground for the Olympic venues, the IOC suggested that Beijing should slow its pace of venue construction. But with the Games drawing nearer, Rogge suggested "everyone must work very hard and very fast."

Some incidents during Chinese athletes' Olympic training sessions also caught Rogge's attention.

Earlier this month, women's long distance runner Sun Yingjie one of China's medal hopes said she had been forced to leave her coach because he beat her severely with a belt.
Her former coach Wang Dexian rejected the claim.

Rogge said: "If the allegations that the athlete was beaten by a coach are true, this is absolutely not acceptable.

"If it is true then it has to be stopped. And Chinese sports authorities have to take action.
"I can't comment much because it is her claim, and whenever you make accusations, you have to provide the proof," he said.


With the Olympics attracting more and more sponsors, some people have expressed doubts over whether the Games are over-commercialized. But Rogge disagreed.

"I would be very surprised if people say (they are over-commercialized), because if you look at the Games, you will not see adverting and billboards in the stadium like you would see at any other major competition. And, we are the only major sports competition where there is no prize money for the athletes.

"If the IOC didn't have the support of the commercial world and distribution on television, then we could not afford to spend money in developing countries like we are doing now."

(China Daily October 24, 2006)

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