Freedom is relative for the IOC

A selection of entries from The Times’ Ticket to Beijing blog (at

And you thought the Chinese government was repressive.

The International Olympic Committee has decided it has the right to control the way medal winners treat their medals.

Remember Ara Abrahamian, the Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler who felt he should not have lost his semifinal match against Italy’s Andrea Minguzzi?


Remember that Abrahamian was so upset, he removed his bronze medal during the medal ceremony, walked off the podium and dropped it in the center of the mat before disappearing?

Well, the IOC didn’t like his attitude. In a decision announced Saturday, the IOC’s executive board ruled that his treatment of the medal was a political demonstration and disrespectful to the other athletes.

The haughty board then threw him out of the Olympics and stripped him of his medal.

We knew the IOC had become chummy with the Chinese, but this is ridiculous.


This is the sort of thing that would happen only in China, where the IOC is currently making billions at the expense of human rights -- oh, wait, now we understand.

-- Bill Plaschke

Jimmy Goldstein’s legend continues

While saluting Los Angeles basketball superfan Jimmy Goldstein for his impossible gate crash, penetrating the impenetrable Chinese security to sit in on Thursday’s postgame news conference, I have to admit I wrote off his chances of ever sitting courtside here, as he does in arenas throughout the NBA.


Guess who turned up in the first row for Saturday night’s U.S. game against Spain?

There are no courtside seats per se, but Jimmy was in the first row of the stands where they come down to the floor -- in a press seat, still without a credential of any kind other than his gaucho hat, one of his shiny jackets, cowboy boots, etc.

“Look, it’s been a struggle for me while I’ve been here,” said Jimmy, who has high expectations, regardless of the venue. “It took me a few days to work things out.”

Actually, it was more like a few minutes.


He arrived Tuesday and came to the arena right from the airport to watch Spain beat China before the U.S. game against Angola.

Moments after the U.S. won, NBA VP Brian McIntyre mused that this was one news conference Jimmy wasn’t going to crash. Yet there he was, sitting among the media people, having somehow gotten past all the ropes and through the waves of security people, police and soldiers.If the truth be told, Jimmy likes attention, although after this, I think his legend is safe.

Four days after he hit town, with a little time to work things out with whatever powers he communes with, there he was sitting courtside, or as close as they have to it here.

“Do you want to tell me how you did it?” I asked.


“No,” he said.

-- Mark Heisler


Mike Cavic accepts defeat


Serbia’s Milorad “Mike” Cavic said that he was not behind the protest of Saturday’s race (which he lost to Michael Phelps by one hundredth of a second), and that it came from the Serbian Olympic Committee:

“Yes, as you all saw, I almost won the gold, and if you ask me, the clock does not lie. I had nothing to do with this filing, and neither did my coach, Mike Bottom. . . . I’ve accepted defeat, and there’s nothing wrong with losing to the greatest swimmer there has ever been.”

-- Lisa Dillman