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Japanese editorial excerpts - NEW IOC REGIME'S SHAKY START.

TOKYO, Feb. 27 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

NEW IOC REGIME'S SHAKY START (The Japan Times, an English-language daily)

The new president of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Jacques Rogge, no doubt spent some sleepless nights in his bed in the athletes' village at Salt Lake City.

The initial concern of a terrorist strike was assuaged...Nevertheless, terrorism cast a shadow over the opening ceremony. A tattered Stars and Stripes flag, retrieved from the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York, was paraded, and U.S. President George W. Bush declared the games open ''on behalf of a proud, determined and grateful nation.''

By its ceremony protocol, the IOC regulates the opening declaration in order to prevent the games from being used for political advantage by any state or individual. Therefore, the IOC changed the way in which the ground zero flag was paraded in the stadium; it rejected the U.S. request that the flag be carried in by the U.S. team. But it did not curb the president's words.

The IOC unfortunately seems to have buckled, as one gets the feeling that this vacillation and compromise at the starting line led directly to the confusion that occurred after the Games had gotten under way.

The main example was the handling of the figure skating pairs competition...The matter really should have been decided by the competent authority over the event, the International Skating Union, but the IOC's executive board went ahead with the ambiguous ruling that both the Russian and the Canadian pairs should be given gold medals...The door was opened for other countries and teams to claim that judging had been clumsy and to protest about the management of the games.

There were rumors of outside pressure from the North American media...and from the many U.S. corporations that are major sponsors of the Olympics.

The new Rogge regime was utterly buffeted by stormy waters. Although we realize how difficult the situation is, we again urge the IOC not to bend to outside pressure.

The improvement of judging in the various events can no longer be left to the sports federations concerned...Although a certain amount of inexperience might be tolerated, fair judging is necessary so that these people do not harbor any doubts.

Japan garnered only two medals, a silver and a bronze. Compared with Nagano four years ago, it was a rather dismal performance. We were wrong to think that because Japanese athletes performed well in Nagano, they would do well in Salt Lake City, too. The world is not that easy. But let's close on a bright note. Thirty-one-year-old Hiroyuki Imai gave an excellent performance to finish sixth in the cross-country skiing men's 50-km classical. The best achievement ever by a Japanese in this individual event, it was the fruit of many years of effort by Imai and his predecessors. Our congratulations go to him and to all those involved in cross-country skiing.

(Feb. 27)
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 4, 2002
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