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Newsletter. Issue 2008-18. August 30, 2008

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"These Were Truly Exceptional Games,"
A Victory for China
Spectacularly Successful Games May Empower Communist Leaders

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, August 25, 2008; A01

BEIJING, Aug. 24 -- The 2008 Summer Olympics closed Sunday night in a display of tightly scripted merriment and lavish fireworks, a final burst of pomp ending 17 days of sports and celebration that Chinese authorities organized with flawless precision and an unbending security clampdown. Over two hours, Chinese organizers dazzled the 90,000 in attendance at the National Stadium. Placido Domingo sang a duet with Song Zuying, a favorite songbird of Communist Party elders; acrobats bounced about on pogo sticks; drums and drummers floated through the air; and a joyful parade of athletes waved flags from around the world.

In its scope and its splendor, the pageant proved yet again that China's Communist Party, while clinging to its Leninist political system, has accumulated the wealth and know-how to pull off a glittering Olympics worthy of a world power. The nation also showed itself able to field a team of impressive athletes, who walked away with 51 gold medals, more than the contingent from any other country.

"These were truly exceptional games," Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said in a speech closing the 29th Olympiad.

Indeed, the 2008 Games seemed likely to go down as a political as well as an athletic victory for China, reinforcing the image of party leaders as adroit managers of the world's largest nation on a double-step march toward greater prosperity. In the view of the Chinese, the appearance of dozens of foreign leaders during the Games, including President Bush, meant the world had effectively endorsed the Communist Party's rule, despite its continued political repression. The emphasis on China's national achievements was intense, responding to guidance from the Central Propaganda Department as well as spontaneous pride. The U.S. lead in the overall medal count was nearly ignored, for instance, in favor of China's winning tally of gold. In another example of the tone, the headline over a story on the success of Australia's Matthew Mitcham in a diving competition Thursday read: "Mitcham Ruins China's Clean Sweep in Diving."

"We won 51 gold medals," exulted Cheng Xue, a 25-year-old Beijing woman who attended the Closing Ceremonies. "It is a total breakthrough. We did a perfect job on security and provided good services to all the athletes."

Fei Shuyu, 28, an office employee in the capital, also judged the Olympics a great success but said she feared that excessive bragging about the gold medal count could lead foreigners to worry about China's rise as an economic power. "China should not get a swollen head," she said. Rogge, the IOC president, carefully avoided criticizing the Chinese government, for instance, when it emerged that journalists' Internet access was being restricted, despite assurances to the contrary, and that police were preventing reporters from covering some protests, despite rules stipulating that there should be no obstacles. His most noticeable display of irritation was reserved for Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter whose crowd-pleasing exuberance Rogge felt was out of place.


After Slow Start, Canada Finishes Olympics With A Flourish
The Canadian Press

BEIJING - Canada hit the gas after a sluggish start in Beijing to produce one of the country's best performances at a Summer Olympiad. But team officials say if the country aspires to have more than a bit part on the biggest sports stage on the planet, Canadians have to care more about their Olympians with their hearts and wallets.

Eighteen medals - three gold, nine silver, six bronze - ties Canada's second-best performance at a non-boycotted Games. The country collected 22 in Atlanta in 1996 and 18 four years prior in Barcelona.


Olympic Field Hockey
Germany men win Gold in Beijing
23 Aug 2008 05:32

An early penalty corner goal from Christopher Zeller was enough to take the German men to a 1-0 win over Spain and put the Gold around their necks in the final match of the Olympic hockey tournament in Beijing.

Australia took the Bronze medal with a stunning 6:2 win over The Netherlands. Eddie OCKENDEN was the star of the show, scoring two and setting up another as The Kookaburras cruised to victory. Earlier in the day, Great Britain surprisingly took fifth place by scoring five second half goals against Korea,


Canada falls to Belgium, finishes 10th

The Canadian men's Olympic field hockey team lost their final match of the Game 3-0 to Team Belgium in the 9-10 Classification Match. The Olympic team matches their best ever Olympic result with a 10th place finish. Belgium's Jerome Dekeyser stunned the Canadian defense in the 2nd minute with a deflection from close range on a free hit for the first goal of the game.

Canadian goalkeeper Mike Mahood was beaten again in the 23rd minute by John-John Dohem on a similar play. Dohem scored again in the final minute of the game. Canada had some good chances but were unable to convert, including a Wayne Fernandes penalty-stroke that hit the crossbar.Fernandes and Connor Grimes finish the Games with a team-leading two goals each. Ravi Kahlon, Ken Pereira, Ranjeev Deol, Bindi Kullar, Rob Short, and Peter Short each had one.

The 10th-place finish equals the best ever placing for a Canadian men's field hockey team at the Olympic Games. The men also finished 10th in 1976, 1984, and 2000.


London Calling As 2008 Olympic Games Close

The 2008 Olympic Summer Games are in the history books, with Canada winning 18 medals in Beijing. The Olympic flame returns in 2010 for the Winter Games in Vancouver, and again in 2012 for the Summer Games in London. Full Story.


Indian Girl Shines At Olympic Closing
25 Aug 2008,,prtpage-1.cms

LONDON: A little Indian-origin girl who starred in the spectacular Olympic closing ceremony in Beijing said she was more excited about meeting footballer David Beckham than appearing in front of 90,000 people. Tayyiba Dudhwala, 10, won the heart of the world Sunday when she hopped off a red London bus to kick off an eight-minute show put up by organisers of the 2012 London Olympics.

Standing in the centre of the packed 90,000-seater Bird's Nest stadium, Dudhwala - showcasing the plurality and multicultural identity of London - did not seem a bit overawed. The closing ceremony was seen by an estimated 1.5 billion people across the world. Tiny Dudhwala, a football fan from east London, was the first person to appear from the double decker bus as it drove into the stadium. She then had to catch a ball and run over the backs of a line of crouching dancers.

Later she stood beside singer-songwriter Leona Lewis, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and former England captain Beckham as her hero dropkicked a ball into the audience. Tayyiba, who won a BBC television competition to take part in the handover ceremony, was described by the deputy head teacher of her school as "football crazy".

"We were really proud of her - it's amazing what she has achieved. She is an incredibly bright pupil. The school made a really big deal of her achievement. She will be representing the British people in Beijing," she said. Tayyiba's cousin, Zakir Dudhwala, said she returned home from school one day to find a BBC TV crew waiting to give her the good news.

"They gave her such a shock. She had been hoping she would win but I don't think she could believe it when she actually did. "She is definitely excited about it. She was really looking forward to going and it was quite emotional for her," he said.

When Tayyiba entered the competition she had to write a postcard explaining why she was excited about the Olympic or Paralympic Games. "She wrote that different people from all over the world come together at the Olympics and she thought that was special," Zakir Dudhwala said.


Pope Urges Fight Against Racism
By David Willey BBC News, Rome

Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians to help society combat intolerance to foreigners amid a row over criticism of the government by Roman Catholics. An article in the country's biggest circulation Catholic weekly magazine criticised the government's crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Talking at his summer residence near Rome, the Pope spoke of worrying displays of racism in some countries.While he did not name them, he clearly intended to include Italy.

The Pope said that while racism was often tied to social and economic problems, these could never justify contempt or racial discrimination. Taking his cue from an Old Testament passage about the duty of welcoming foreigners, the Pope said peace and justice could only be created in a world where every human person was respected. There has been some lively discussion in Italy during the past week about the controversial article published in the popular Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, which has a circulation of about 1m copies.

The article criticised some of the security measures recently taken by the new Silvio Berlusconi government to combat crime, such as the fingerprinting of Roma children. Increased crime figures are perceived by many Italians as closely connected to the arrival of thousands of new immigrants each month, many of them smuggled into the country by boat from North Africa.

The article said the government's decision to bring troops on to the streets to help the police combat crime was "useless" and it talked about the rebirth of what it called "new forms of fascism". There were protests by the government and the official Vatican spokesman later distanced both the Vatican and the Italian Catholic Bishops from the views expressed in Famiglia Cristiana, which is owned by a Catholic religious order and whose editor-in-chief is a Catholic priest. Now the Pope himself has entered the fray, giving his own views on racial discrimination, and pointing out that this is by no means a development that concerns only Italy.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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