China’s Olympics under Scrutiny

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The Chinese Government is under media scrutiny this week. Slated to host the Summer Olympics this August, Chinese officials are under fire for reportedly attempting to cover up the deaths of Chinese workers at the construction sites of brand new Olympic venues.

A report in Britain’s Sunday Times claims that in the five years the construction project has been underway, there has been a total of 10 or more deaths of construction workers at various sites. Officials at the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games denied the articles. The Committee, known as Bocog, stated that the article was false, and that they had excellent safety records.

The Officials are under scrutiny because Ding Zhenkuan, deputy chief of Beijing's Municipal Bureau of Work Safety, initially told reporters that no deaths had occurred in the five year project. He later stated that there were two deaths that occurred at the National Stadium (the site of the opening and closing ceremonies), and later added four more deaths without elaborating on any details. He also claimed the deaths occurred only within the last three years.

The Times that reported on the story claim that the Chinese Government covered up the deaths, and doled out large payments to other workers that witnessed the accidents to silence them. Some observers see the question of workers deaths as a test of Beijing’s pledge to improve transparency ahead of the games. Bocog officials have repeatedly claimed that “no major accidents” have occurred at any Olympic venues. Mr. Ding also said yesterday that a workplace accident is classified as “major” if it causes three or more fatalities. A US News article last fall reported on corruption and shoddy construction work at Olympic venues.Â