Tonight we decided to pay a surprise visit to IOC President Jacques Rogge. We arrived at his hotel, but missed him by seconds as he breezed in with his bodyguards and walked straight into the elevator. I tried to get him on the phone — with no luck of course. I did manage to speak to Paul Foster (IOC “Head of Protocol Events and Hospitality”) who insisted that I go through Robert Roxborough, the Communications Coordinator I had originally spoken with from Tiananmen Square, to get an appointment with Rogge. I told him I’d been waiting for Robert to call me back, and said that I would wait in the hotel lobby for a while.
Soon after talking to the hotel’s General Manager — whom I approached after we found him peering nervously at us from across the lobby — Robert showed up in the lobby. He’s a polite young Scottish guy who came to deliver the message that Jacque’s schedule is too tight to fit in a meeting with me. I told him that this was an opportunity for the IOC to address the issue of human rights one year before the Games, especially as many people are upset with comments made in Guatemala by IOC Coordination Commissioner Hein Verbruggen. Robert listened politely as I described the situation in Tibet and expressed our outrage at the fact that China is using the Games to legitimize its rule in Tibet. Finally, I asked him to take a message back to Rogge asking him to reconsider my request for a meeting. I said I would come to the hotel in the morning and wait for an answer. Robert didn’t seem too keen on that, but he said he’d let me know tomorrow. So that’s where we stand now.
All in all it was another bizarre but productive day in China’s pollution-choked capital. It felt good to stand in Tiananmen Square and speak confidently in front of Mao’s portrait. In the evening, it was surprising to find so little security at Rogge’s hotel. At the end of the long day, it was strangely comforting to return to our hotel and find no less than five plain-clothed security agents waiting for us in the lobby.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings…