Local governments ‘to network’ at Olympics

Local and provincial councils are spending tens of thousands of euros sending officials to the Beijing Olympics, the AD reports on Monday.

Councils justify the expense by saying the games are the perfect occasion to network and boost their city’s and province’s international profiles. The Netherlands’ bid to host the 2028 Olympics is also cited as a reason for attending, the AD says.
Rotterdam is sending its mayor, one council executive and five civil servants at a cost of €58,000.
Amsterdam plans to send a nine-man delegation for €40,000, including mayor Job Cohen. A spokesman for the capital says the final decision on whether or not to attend still has to be taken.
The province of Flevoland, meanwhile, is spending €30,000 on a five-man delegation to the games, the AD says. ‘Flevoland wants to profile itself in an international setting,’ spokeswoman Henriëtte Muller tells the paper.
Utrecht is spending a more modest €4,400 to send its queen’s commissioner Roel Robbertsoen to network on behalf of the province.
Eindhoven city council justifies its €18,000 bill to sent one council executive and an assistant to Beijing saying they are going to support their local swimming gold medal hope Pieter van den Hoogenband.
But Eindhoven council spokesman Nard Gilsings admits in the AD that the officials do not actually have tickets for the swimming events but for beach volleyball. ‘Our city has ambitions in the beach volleyball arena,’ Gilsings tells the AD.
None of the officials planning to attend the games feel that the human rights situation in China is a reason to boycott the games, although none are attending the opening ceremony, the AD says.

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