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Manners maketh good Games, says China's Mr Olympics

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 21 (Reuters) Good manners must top the agenda if China is to host a successful Games in Beijing in 2008, according to a former top Olympic official.

''It's the rude bus passenger or a witness to an accident who fails to lend a hand that stands in our way of staging an impressive Olympiad,'' He Zhenliang, former Chinese Olympic Committee chief and advisor to the Beijing Games organisers, told the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

''People are talking about showcasing our culture and the country's economic power through the extravaganza, but I think good manners should be put at the top of our agenda.'' Beijing authorities have launched a string of initiatives to improve the manners of the 14 million inhabitants of the Chinese capital, including a series of etiquette booklets and the deployment of ''civility supervisors'' on the streets.

The official also said cultural differences meant China still had a long way to go before it could be said to have embraced the Olympic spirit.

''In Chinese culture, sports are more a way to achieve self-realisation than a competition,'' He said. ''But the Olympic spirit, derived from Western culture, obviously takes an opposite view.'' A member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1981 and once known as China's Mr Olympics, He also said traditional Chinese martial arts were unlikely ever to feature at the Games.

There will be international competition in Wushu -- a non-contact form of kung fu -- at the Beijing Games but it will not be an official demonstration sport in the way Korean martial art Taekwondo was at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

''Unlike gymnastics and synchronized swimming, the traditional martial arts are very complicated to judge,'' He told the paper.

''Yes, we can simplify them and squeeze them into the Olympic family like the Koreans do with the Taekwondo.

''But then comes another question: Does that mean we have to compromise the essence of the sport? It's really a tricky question.'' Taekwondo was eventually adopted as a full Olympic sport for Sydney 2000 but after years of expansion the IOC has now capped the number of sports in the Summer Games at 28.

REUTERS PM SSC1422

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