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IOC Source: Beijing In '08

The 2008 Olympics are Beijing's to lose.

That was the picture painted by International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound, who indicated Thursday that China's human rights history is the lone potential stumbling block.

"The big issue is whether or not we're ready to go to China," Pound said. "Is it time to go to China or do we go to one of the other four very qualified cities? I think you could put your hand in a jar and draw out any one of the five and be satisfied, with more or less work."

The IOC will vote July 13 in Moscow on a site for the 2008 Summer Games.

The finalists - Beijing, Istanbul, Osaka, Paris and Toronto - all submitted bid books by Wednesday's deadline. The bid books provide details on finances, venues, transportation, security and other aspects of staging the games.

Beijing would stage beach volleyball in Tiananmen Square, site of the bloody 1989 crackdown on unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. At least one Olympic official has questioned whether China's rights record should disqualify it from hosting the games.

"That's going to be THE issue, I think, in this election," Pound said. "Is it China's time or not? If it is, it is. If it's not, then you have four other very good fallbacks."

In 1993, Beijing narrowly lost to Sydney in voting on the site of the 2000 Olympics.

IOC members have received more information about China than the other four finalists combined, Pound said.

"There's going to be a lot of publicity in the western media about China," Pound said. "Will it affect voters? It's hard to say.

"Even with the relative imminence of Tiananmen Square back in 1993, China came within two votes of beating Sydney, which had zero risk at all."

In a wide-ranging discussion at the annual Sport Summit, Pound also addressed the organizational troubles that have plagued preparations for the 2004 Athens Games. Construction delays, political wrangling and personnel shake-ups have led some to question whether Greece should keep those games.

"Athens is still problematic," Pound said. "They have a lot of challenges to meet. But we're greatly encouraged that the Greek government has stepped in with much more weight and authority.

"These games are too important to Greece and to us to be allowed not to be a success."

Other issues mentioned:

The World Anti-Doping Agency, of which Pound is president, wants private sector help in fighting drug use.

"Drug use in sports is probably our No. 1 challenge at the moment," he said. "We've got to get a handle on that. There is a big difference between Olympic sports and other sports. While doping in the NFL is nothing, each time there's a case in the Olympics, it's a big deal."

WADA wants to get sponsors to support educational programs and promote research, while pharmaceutical companies should help fid tests to detect the drugs of choice in Olympic sports.

The Olympics should be capped at 10,000 to 11,000 athletes. "If it gets much bigger than that it becomes less manageable," Pound said.

TV rights could be sold globally instead of region-by-region. "How we sell the rights after 2008 is up for grabs," Pound said. "We've always done it on a territorial basis. As media empires get bigger and bigger, we may have to look at a worldwide basis."

Global television viewership was up about 20 percent for the Sydney Games, with an estimated audience of 3.7 billion people.

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