For better or worse, the Olympic flame will cast a bright light on the reality of daily life in Beijing. The gloomy cloud of smog hanging over the city is just one of the many problems to overcome. Billions have been spent to move factories out of town, and during the event around a third of cars will be ordered off the road. It is far from clear whether those measures will beat the pollution. International Olympic Committee president Jaques Rogge, praised initiatives underatken by authorities.“The implementation of activities such as tree planting days, water treatment, creation of green areas, an initiative to raise air quality and reduce pollution, are very important,” he said. But the awarding of the games to Beijing has always been controversial. And many of those with a grievance against China are using the Olympics to lobby their cause. In India activists are protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet. Campaign groups are stepping up the pressure on other fronts too. Paul Steiger, from the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “I think there is a major responsibility for the IOC not to substitute itself for the government of China, but to speak out and encourage the government of China to live up to its commitments.” China is accused of stifling press freedom, jailing critical journalists, controlling the domestic news media and limiting access to foreign websites. The government has lifted some press restriction, but there are many signs the authoritarian instinct remains.
Games shine troubled spotlight on Beijing