Jacques Rogge says its not the job of the Olympics to solve human rights problems, but that this summer's Games in Beijing may help bring change to China.
The IOC president, who was in Vancouver to review the city's preparations for the 2010 Winter Games, addressed ongoing human rights concerns in communist China during an interview with CBC Sports' Ron MacLean on Thursday.
"I'm saying that the Games are a force for the world that will promote the social evolution in China, and the Games are a catalyst for change in China," Rogge said. "But the Games, at the same time, are not the panacea for all the ills of the world."
Excerpts of the interview were shown Thursday on CBC's The National. More of the interview can be seen on the next edition of CBC's Countdown to Beijing, Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBC Newsworld and streamed on CBCSports.ca. In subsequent weeks, the show can be seen on CBC Television — with streaming on CBCSports.ca — each Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Beijing beat out Toronto for the right to host the 2008 Olympics in part, it is believed, because the Beijing bid included a pledge from China to improve its human-rights record. But there are concerns that the authoritarian state is not making good on its promise.
It isn't certain whether the Beijing bid contained a human rights provision because, unlike Vancouver's, the bid contract was not made public.
Earlier this month, American filmmaker Steven Spielberg resigned his post as artistic adviser for Beijing's opening and closing ceremonies to protest China's refusal to use its influence to help end the ongoing genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
"We have limitations in that we are not a political organization," Rogge said in his interview with MacLean. "We are a sports organization, of course based on very strong values and based on the total respect of the individual. And therefore I believe that the Games will be a revealer of what China wants to show at the Games."
MacLean said on the National on Thursday that he suggested to Rogge that the IOC urge its sponsors to apply pressure to the Chinese government, but that Rogge "would hear none of that."