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French politician says Beijing vote a scandal

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PARIS — Friday's vote to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing had parallels with the decision to hold the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany and tarnishes the image of the games, a senior French politician said on Friday.

Francois Loncle, the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch, was to blame for allowing the games to go to China.

"The decision by the IOC goes towards justifying a repressive political system that each day flouts freedom and violates human rights," said Loncle, who is a member of French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Socialist party.

Beijing defeated four other cities, including Paris, in Friday's IOC vote.

"Following the example of Nazi Germany in 1936 and the Soviet Union in 1980, Communist China will use (the games) as a powerful propaganda instrument destined to consolidate its hold on power," Loncle said in a statement.

"How can one imagine, as is scheduled, that the triathlon and beach-volleyball can be organised on Tiananmen Square where the Chinese army bloodily wiped out the democratic movement of spring 1989?" he added.

Loncle said the vote ran counter to the Olympic Charter which called for the respect of fundamental, universal ethics.

"This is the last bad blow brought about by Juan Antonio Samaranch, who, during his 21 year reign, has transformed the games into a multinational given over to commercialism, size and corruption, and shows no real desire to tackle doping."

Samaranch retires as president later this month.