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» 02/12/2010
ASIA – CANADA
Vancouver: Asia’s hopes in the 21st Winter Olympic games
The Games will run from 12 to 28 February, coinciding with Chinese New Year. In Canada, about 2,500 athletes will represent 82 nations, 21 from Asia. Beijing is sending its largest delegation ever, but its presence is still overshadowed by its 2008 “Olympics prisoners”.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – At 6 pm local time, the 21st Winter Olympic Games will officially open today in Vancouver (Canada) until 28 February. For Canadians, who already hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, it will be an opportunity to outperform the United States and win the much-coveted gold medal in ice hockey. For many athletes from Asia, just being there is a success. Among Asian delegations, China is coming with its largest contingent ever, whilst South Korea (17 gold) and Japan (9 gold) will try to keep their edge in the medal count.

After facing a snow shortage and the economic crisis, these Games will see the participation of some 2,500 athletes from 82 nations, including 21 from Asia. China’s delegation will be 180-strong with 94 athletes who will compete in ten sporting events. So far, the mainland has won 33 medals (4 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze). Many Chinese sports aficionados are hoping that the coincidence of dates with Chinese New Year (14 February) will bring luck (and medals) for the whole games.

Yesterday in Richmond, the Chinese Olympic Committee inaugurated China House, the first such structure ever built for the Winter Games, a place where athletes, coaches and officials can relax and unwind from all the pressure caused by the competitions.

However, China is still under the shadow cast by the abuses and human rights violations that occurred during the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

In the period leading up to and during the Games, activists, dissidents and independent reporters were arrested and sent to prison for demanding freedom of the press and respect for human rights.

This week Reporters without Borders sent a petition to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), urging him to ask Chinese authorities to free the so-called “Olympic prisoners”.

In a curt response, the IOC said that it is not the authority to intercede. "We must leave these things to the relevant bodies such as the UN and its agencies,” the statement said.

Among the Asian athletes coming to Vancouver, two are from North Korea, one from Taiwan, two from Nepal, one from Pakistan and three from India.

The Indian delegation will honour a soldier who was killed in an avalanche the day after its arrival in Vancouver. “We found out by reading it on the Internet," said Shabir Wani, the Indian cross-country skiing coach.

Only about half of India's 1.1 billion citizens are even aware they have a team competing in the Winter Olympics. "If you say 'skiing,' about another 25 per cent of the people would assume you mean skating," chef de mission R.K. Gupta said.

India, which boasts 20 Olympic medals in summer sports, has not won a medal at the Winter Games since it began competing in them in 1964.


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See also
08/30/2004 asia - olympic games
China leads Asia into a new Olympic era
04/06/2006 SOUTH KOREA - CHINA
Olympic committee: we want full respect for human rights before the games
02/27/2008 CHINA
IOC advisor: the Olympics are an opportunity for respect of human rights
03/12/2008 CHINA
Olympic projects built with "the blood" of migrant workers
08/08/2006 CHINA
Olympics two years away: human rights ignored as Beijing gears up

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
IRAN
Time for a deal with Tehran, a reliable partner against the Islamic State group
by Bernardo Cervellera A framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has to be inked by 31 March. US Republicans, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fiercely opposed to it for ulterior motives. Hassan Rouhani wants Iran to come back into the international fold. Tehran is playing a mediating role in the Middle East. For Vatican nuncio, “there is no evidence that Iran is preparing a nuclear bomb.”

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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