LONDON - The west must stop hectoring China over human rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge has demanded.
"You don't obtain anything in China with a loud voice." This was the "big mistake of people in the west", the IOC chief said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Saturday.
Rogge said, "It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949," a time when Britain and other European nations were also colonial powers, "with all the abuse attached to colonial powers". "It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the colonies. Let's be a little bit more modest."
Rogge said the IOC always believed awarding the 2008 Games to Beijing would "open up China", and that in time this would happen.
"The Games we believe, over time, will have a good influence on social evolution in China, and the Chinese admit it themselves," he said.
Rogge questioned whether media attention on Tibet would be as strong if the Games were not taking place in Beijing. "I wonder if Tibet would be front page today were it not that the Games are being organized in Beijing. It would probably be page 4 or 5," he said.
Rogge said China had given significant ground to the IOC by opening access to foreign media for the Olympics, which he expected to be extended beyond 2008 and believed would be a key factor in the social evolution of the country. China had also responded to IOC concerns about pollution in Beijing, he added.
"We have been able to achieve something. I am not quite sure that heads of government have achieved much more than we have done," Rogge said.
The Games would continue to be awarded to cities with the best technical bids, and were for the benefit of athletes rather than for international political evolution, but "if at the same time they can bring something for the region of the country, yes, fine", Rogge said.