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Beijing Olympic Games

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

I shall speak very quickly, Mr. Speaker.

I plan to attend the whole of the Olympic games and part of the Paralympic games, including both closing ceremonies, with the handover to London, at which point London becomes host city for both the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

I thank the Minister for her reply. Does she agree that we have more chance of achieving human rights reforms in China if we engage with the Chinese than if we boycott the Olympics?

Will the Minister be accompanied to Beijing by the Sports Ministers of the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies of the United Kingdom? If so, will she discuss with the Minister from Northern Ireland its prospects of getting some of the Olympic games when the London Olympics take place? What is in it for Northern Ireland?

I understand that a meeting of the sports cabinet will take place tomorrow, which will be an opportunity to discuss some of the issues. In advance of the Beijing games, I will be spending two days in Northern Ireland, when I will have an opportunity to discuss its preparation for the Olympics.

Amnesty International recently reported that the current wave of oppression in China is occurring not in spite of the Olympics but because of it. Does the Minister intend to attend the Beijing Olympics regardless of China’s clear breach of its commitments to the International Olympic Committee?

In practice, the commitments made by China to the IOC were specifically about increasing press freedom. Eighteen months ago, I secured, as did other colleagues in negotiation with counterparts, the free movement of accredited and non-accredited journalists in the run-up to the Olympics. That is a specific and important freedom, which we must now ensure continues after the games in continuing dialogue with China.