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A man with much on his mind

Richard Burgess | 19:12 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

For a man with much on his mind, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is remarkably calm.

Controversy is never far away from the Olympic Games - it's the nature of the beast - but Rogge seems to take it all in his stride.

With human rights groups calling for a boycott of Beijing, does he regret giving the Games to China? Not a bit of it.

Is he worried that next summer's Games will be beset by failed drugs tests? Nope. What about all the smog in Beijing and events being postponed? Not unusual, says Rogge. Surely he must be concerned about London and all the continuing wrangling over money? No chance, London is progressing "extremely well."

So can we deduce that all is rosy in the IOC garden? Not quite. Rogge's messages in our interview might be subtle but they are there nonetheless.

He is positive about 2012, but the implication to Lord Coe and his team is clear enough - get building as soon as possible and get yourself an anchor tenant for the Olympic stadium.

To those who expect China to embrace liberal western democracy and all that goes with it by next summer, Rogge is equally clear - it just won't happen and you can't expect the IOC to work miracles.

And when you hear his impeccably diplomatic reply to the question of what should be done about Marion Jones' Olympic gold medal, you don't need to be a mind reader to work out what he really thinks.

The IOC is desperate to avoid the humiliation of handing over one of their prized assets to the disgraced Greek sprinter, Katerina Thanou, and you can bet they are exploring every legal option right now to escape their predicament.

For the BBC, the Olympics are hugely important. The director general, Mark Thompson, recently described London 2012 as "one of the biggest broadcasting events in the corporation's history."

Over the next nine months, we will be building up to Beijing and attempting to cover every angle - from following Britain's main medal hopes to increasing our coverage of all Olympic sports. Then, of course, from August 8th next year the Olympics will be front and centre across TV, 5 Live and this website.

But that does not mean we are just cheerleaders for the Games. It's important that we continue to put the right questions to Mr Rogge et al - and attempt to interpret their answers.

As the Games approach, the issues, controversy and debates will doubtless intensify - and so will the questions to the IOC.


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