Olympics: Taiwan's Wu says China won't oppose IOC bid

PARIS (AFP) - Taiwan's Wu Ching-kuo has said Chinese officials "fully understand" his bid to lead the powerful International Olympic Committee (IOC) and won't oppose it in line with broader policies on the island.

The world boxing chief, who last week announced his candidacy to succeed IOC president Jacques Rogge, said told Agence France-Presse (AFP) he was confident that his long personal history with China would make this a case of "sport over politics".

China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, opposes international recognition for the island and has blocked its membership of global bodies like the United Nations. Taiwan competes at the Olympics under the formulation "Chinese Taipei".

But Mr Wu, 66, told AFP in an interview that he was born in China, made a ground-breaking visit there in 1989 and had supported Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

"Taiwan and China enjoy a very good relationship," Mr Wu said by telephone from Taipei, where he launched his campaign last Thursday.

"Personally I was the first Taiwanese sports leader to visit China in 1989 and I supported Beijing in their successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

"I was born in China and moved from there to Taiwan with my parents at the age of one-and-a-half. This (candidacy) should be a case of sports over politics."

Mr Wu added: "China recognises my 25 years' service to the IOC and they fully understand the situation."

Chinese support could be important for Mr Wu as he bids to become the first Asian leader of the IOC, which controls the awarding and running of the summer and winter Olympic Games.

Mr Wu, leader of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), is up against Singapore's Ng Ser Miang, Switzerland's Denis Oswald, Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion and Germany's Thomas Bach, the perceived front-runner.

Mr Wu has been praised for his seven-year tenure at AIBA in which he has fought corruption, introduced women's boxing to the Olympics and delivered what is regarded as the sport's best Olympic contest yet in London last year.

The former basketball player is also a prominent architect who has designed three Olympic museums, two of them in China including one which he inaugurated in Tianjin last month.

He praised the legacy of previous IOC presidents but said it was time for a new vision and direction. Mr Rogge, who has reached the term limit of 12 years, will be replaced at the IOC's general session in Buenos Aires in September.

If elected, mr Wu said cracking down on doping and illegal gambling - closely related to match-fixing - would be his main priorities, as well as instilling "Olympic values" in the world's children.

"We are facing two great challenges in doping and illegal gambling," he said.

"The question is how to solve these issues. When we are young it is our parents who teach us morals and principles and I would like that a presidency under me instil Olympic values into the children as well.

"Namely how to compete fairly and to respect one's rivals. In my mind tackling problems when they arise and sanctioning infractions is already too late."

He added that he would even seek to have governments introduce Olympic education into their primary school curriculums.

"I would encourage through the Olympic Family network to ask governments, namely their education ministers, to introduce Olympic education into primary schools," said Mr Wu.

"I believe that I can convince many governments to do this for the future benefit of children and for the Olympic Movement. This is building for the future."

Mr Wu said he would seek just one mandate of eight years, maintaining that any longer is too taxing mentally and physically. He maintained that his record at the AIBA showed he could deliver on campaign pledges.

"When I took over the federation there was a lot of cheating and corruption and I gave my commitment that within six years I would clear it all up," he said.