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Smoke gathering over 2008 Olympics
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BEIJING (AP) — The Olympic Games are a year away, but protests have already begun from groups who want to change China.
Also clouding the picture Tuesday was a thick blanket of smog that has hovered over the city for weeks, not the blue skies hoped for by the organizers of the Beijing Games.
Officials including International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge will mark the start of the year countdown with a ceremony Wednesday in Tiananmen Square.
In an open letter to Rogge and Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, a group of 40 well-known dissidents said China’s Olympic preparations had obscured widespread civil-rights abuses.
The IOC said the games, which begin Aug. 8, 2008, could be a “catalyst for constructive dialogue.”
“We believe that the Olympic Games will act as a vehicle for positive change in many ways, some of which may take time to realize,” the IOC said. “From what we have learned in meeting with human rights groups, they typically agree with our viewpoint that the Games being held in Beijing is a positive thing.”
Dismal air quality, meanwhile, could threaten the performance and health of thousands of elite athletes, and some are already saying they will stay away until the last minute because of pollution concerns.
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