Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't you think some of these are creative? :)

A more neutral stance in this report. Don't you think some of these measures are creative? ;)

"BEIJING (AP) - Beijing is considering hospitalizing the mentally ill, relaxing restrictions on religious services and giving many businesses and factories a holiday, among contingency measures for the 2008 Olympics.

The city office overseeing Olympic preparations discussed dozens of contingency measures needed for the Games at an internal meeting Thursday, from limits on the use of cars to banning the posting of handbills around the city, the state-run Beijing Morning Post said Friday.

Among the measures discussed, the newspaper said, were shutting down heavily polluting factories to clean up the air, giving most Beijing residents a 16-day holiday to alleviate traffic and allowing foreigners to worship in groups, which is officially outlawed, although the ban is rarely enforced.
A spokesman for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Environmental and Construction Headquarters Office, which conducted the meeting, confirmed the newspaper report but stressed no decisions have been made. "Everything is still under discussion," said spokesman Zhou Jiawang.

Chinese leaders have staked the country's prestige on running a successful Games and raised expectations in the sports and business worlds that the event will set a new standard for the Olympic movement. But the city often chokes with pollution and is gridlocked in standstill traffic, posing logistical and planning challenges.
City officials and the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, known as BOCOG, have previously said that a host of contingency plans were being looked at to deal with pollution and traffic and ensure Chinese regulations comply with international norms during the Games. The Beijing Morning Post report was the most detailed glimpse yet of the range of issues.

More controversially, the newspaper also said that the city was considering hospitalizing all mentally ill people "to avoid creating any harm to society" and expelling many of the city's one million migrant workers.

Zhou denied that such a wide-scale expulsion order was on the table. He said ordering out the migrants was proposed by one of the advisers at the meeting, but that the newspaper report was incorrect. At first he said that his office would issue a clarification later but then said it would be done by the city government. The city government's press office said it did not know when the statement would be released.

The confusion underscores the sensitivities human-rights issues hold for China in its Olympic ambitions. Chinese leaders have promised that hosting the Olympics will improve respect for human rights. Privately, International Olympic Committee officials have warned Beijing officials that excessive social controls could mar the Games.

Beijing has previously enacted extraordinary measures to reduce the chances of protest or spruce up the grimy capital's appearance. In 1993, during its failed bid for the 2000 Olympics, Beijing expelled beggars, forced the handicapped to stay at home and closed smokestack industries when International Olympic Commission inspection teams visited.

Some of the contingencies deal with legalities. While the city has the authority to shut down heavily polluting factories on days of high pollution, it does not have the power to do so for the sake of a major event, the Beijing Morning Post said. Visa requirements must also be waived to allow Olympic Games participants visa-free entry to China.

To deal with the traffic congestion, the city may limit cars to driving every other day, with licence plates ending in odd numbers allowed on some days and those with even numbers on the others, the report said. Olympic event ticket-holders would be allowed free rides on public transport to encourage them not to drive, the newspaper said." - 15th Sep 2006, Canadian Press


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