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IN THE NEWS - July 21, 2001: Olympics - 2001-07-20

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

The International Olympic Committee this week chose a doctor from Belgium as its president. Jacques Rogge (RAWG) will serve at least eight years. He replaced Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain who served as president for twenty-one years.

Doctor Rogge received support from more than half the delegates in a second vote during a meeting in Moscow. He has worked for many years with the International Olympic Committee, known as the I-O-C. He is fifty-nine years old.

Kim Un-yong of South Korea placed second in the secret voting for president of the committee. Other candidates were Dick Pound of Canada, Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Anita DeFrantz of the United States.

Last week, the I-O-C chose Beijing, China, to hold the summer Olympic Games of Two-Thousand-Eight. Doctor Rogge will be the chief advisor to Beijing officials as they prepare for Olympic events. The city received more than two times as many votes as Toronto, Canada, its closest opponent. Paris, France, Istanbul, Turkey, and Osaka, Japan also were competing to hold the Olympic Games in Two-Thousand-Eight.

Committee delegates said they hope the Chinese government will become more open as it prepares for the games. The delegates said they also hoped China’s human-rights and environmental policies will improve. China plans to begin its most important building project for the Olympics since the Great Wall was built. It has also announced plans for a costly program to reduce pollution.

Observers called the election of Doctor Rogge a move to reform the worldwide sports organization. The new president says he will place great importance on preventing Olympic competitors from using banned drugs. Experts say his long record of honesty may help the Olympics recover from charges of illegal actions.

The accusations are linked to the winter games of Two-Thousand-Two. Ten Olympic Committee members reportedly accepted gifts and large amounts of money to choose Salt Lake City, Utah, to hold the events. The American government charged five people in connection with these gifts. Earlier this week, a federal judge dismissed four of fifteen charges against two men who led Salt Lake City’s campaign to get the Olympics. The judge also postponed their trial.

The new president of the International Olympic Committee has been active in the Olympics since he was a young man. Jacques Rogge is a champion sailor who competed in three Olympic sailing events, the last in Nineteen-Seventy-Six. He has been a member of the International Olympic Committee for ten years. Doctor Rogge had a major responsibility for plans for the Two-Thousand Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Those games were highly successful.

This VOA Special English IN THE NEWS was written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.