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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Gloom in Paris over Olympics decision
French protesters outside the Chinese embassy in Paris
Bid backers pointed to China's human rights record
By James Coomarasamy in Paris

Paris put in a major effort to get the Olympic Games of 2008 although it knew that Europe was starting at a disadvantage.

Athens is hosting the 2004 games, Turin the 2006 winter games, and Germany the next football World Cup.

The scenes of celebration and fireworks in the streets of Beijing contrasted with an altogether more sober atmosphere in Paris on Friday.

Zinedine Zidane
French international footballer Zinedine Zidane was part of the Paris bid committee
On a cold and damp day in the city, the weather seemed to reflect the mood inside the City Hall.

Although Beijing was always favourite to gain the nomination, there was great disappointment amongst the assembled dignitaries and young athletes when the result was announced.

Paris had hoped its popularity, its experience in hosting sporting events and its level of preparation would be enough to sway the opinion of the Olympic Committee if it felt that real concerns about China's human rights record meant the 2008 games should not go to the favourites.

One member of the Paris Olympic Committee said the IOC had taken a huge gamble, and that he was afraid in the seven years leading up to the Beijing Games, the words "Olympics" and "boycott" would become increasingly heard in the same breath.

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