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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 04:41 GMT 05:41 UK
Beijing revels in Olympics victory
Beijing celebrations
Beijing did not hide its delight at the decision
Beijing residents have been celebrating all night after the International Olympic Committee's decision to award the 2008 Games to the Chinese capital.

Beijing celebrations
Candidate no more: Beijing is now a winner
More than 200,000 people packed into Tiananmen Square to celebrate the news - the largest spontaneous demonstrations since the democracy movement of 1989.

"Smiles everywhere, joy ignites," read the headline in the Beijing Morning Post.

Even top political leaders, including President Jiang Zemin, joined the crowds, grinning broadly and hugging ecstatic revellers.

"Comrades, we express our deep thanks to all our friends around the world and to the IOC for helping to make Beijing successful in its Olympic bid," said the president.

Welcomed in Taipei

China's nationalist rival Taiwan welcomed the Olympic decision, with many believing that it could reduce the military and political tensions between the two countries.

"Only by maintaining regional peace and stability can the Olympic spirit be truly realised," said a Taiwanese government spokesman.

The United Daily News said the Olympics would bring "new rules of engagement and new thinking designed to create a win-win situation".

Beijing has threatened to attack Taiwan if the island declares independence or drags its feet on unification talks.

Since the Communists came to power in Beijing in 1949, they have regarded Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Economic boost

Some in Beijing predict the Olympics will bring an investment bonanza which will transform the city.

Osaka delegates at IOC meeting
Long faces for the Osaka delegation
At a bar in the city, real estate agent Shi Li, 26, said the decision had hugely improved his job prospects.

"I believe I will be running my own real estate agency by 2008," he said.

But 22-year-old student Sun Rongrong expressed a widespread fear that billions of dollars in Olympic-related construction projects will end up filling the pockets of corrupt officials.

"I'm a bit worried because such a huge opportunity will introduce a lot of chances for corruption," she said.

Fears that China's human rights record would again block Beijing's bid evaporated after the city received 56 votes in the second round of voting, well ahead of main rivals Toronto (22 votes) and Paris (18 votes).

Richard Bunting of Amnesty International said China's human rights abuses would now be in the global spotlight in the run-up to and during the 2008 games.

"It is a terrible irony that as the Chinese authorities have campaigned to host the 2008 Olympics, repression and injustice have escalated in the country.

"Political imprisonment, torture and a frenzy of executions fly in the face of the Olympic Charter's principles of the preservation of human dignity and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."

Tibet's government-in-exile in New Delhi, India, condemned the decision to award the games to Beijing, saying the move gave an "international stamp of approval" to China's human rights violations.

But many IOC members embraced the position that the Olympics would promote positive change in China.

Disappointed runners-up

Many regarded Toronto as the strongest runner-up in the bid to host the games.

Paul Henderson, head of the bidding team for the Canadian city, said: "We did a great job but the odds were against us. Now they [the IOC] have to live with their decision."

A BBC correspondent in Paris says the French capital's Olympic bid team are bitterly disappointed at faring much worse in the voting than they thought they would.

Our correspondent adds that they feel they have lost to a political decision rather than being judged on the strength of their bid.

There was also some disappointment in the other potential host cities of Istanbul and Osaka, Japan.

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Beijing
"As the capital's 13 million inhabitants awoke, Beijing quietly revelled in its news status as Olympic city"
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13 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
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14 Jul 01 | Media reports
15 Jul 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
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