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Beijing Olympic Organizers Urge Sponsors' Continued Support Despite Stance on Darfur


Beijing Olympic Organizers have defended China's stance on Darfur and urged Olympic sponsors to continue their support for this year's Games.

Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee marketing director Yuan Bin said her department is in close contact with 63 Olympic sponsors and she is sure they are still committed to the Games. Yuan told a news conference in the Chinese capital that the Games are a celebration that contributes to world peace.

A spokesman for the Adidas sportswear company appeared with Yuan and said his company has no plans to withdraw from the Games. Other sponsors include McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, Volkswagen and General Electric.

Yuan's comments came after film director Steven Spielberg's decision last week to back out of his role as artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies. Spielberg said China had not put enough pressure on the Khartoum government to end fighting in Darfur.

Human rights organizations want Beijing to press Sudan to stop the conflict, where an estimated 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced from their homes. China is a major buyer of Sudan's oil and is regarded as one of the African nation's main trading partners. The communist government has sent a special envoy to the region and is sending engineers to Sudan to help prepare the way for United Nations peacekeepers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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