THE INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee faces a tough enough job July 13 in Moscow deciding - on Olympic merits - which city should host the 2008 Summer Games. The IOC itself is a flawed institution.
But governments trying to push the IOC one way or another for their own power-politics agendas will make matters worse.
The White House is wise to have no position. Congress would be foolish to adopt a resolution, approved by the House International Relations Committee, telling the IOC to hold the games anywhere but Beijing.
That would probably guarantee Beijing's selection. It would also provoke reprisal objections to Washington for the 2012 Summer Games, with sites in Baltimore, Annapolis and College Park.
Truth be told, the provincial Washington interest for 2008 is anywhere but Toronto. Selection of a North American location would rule out another for 2012.
The anti-Beijing resolution is cheap grandstanding over China's human rights deficiencies, which are real enough.
While some Chinese dissidents and Tibetan autonomists encourage the commotion, others do not. The Dalai Lama and some 4,000 Taiwanese runners who took part in a 10-city run supporting Beijing are among those who think human rights is precisely the reason for choosing it. They believe the selection would put Beijing on good behavior and commit it to a reduction in tensions in East Asia so as not to mar the Games or provoke boycotts.
But the only politics the IOC should consider are Olympian. Beijing narrowly missed selection for 2000 and resents the snub. The Chinese are one-fourth the world's population, and China is developing competitive teams in most sports. IOC business-politico-sportsmen understandably want China inside their club.
That's why Beijing is the betting favorite. A 107-page IOC evaluation on technical merits in May called Beijing, Paris and Toronto all "excellent" bids. It seemed to rule out Osaka, Japan, and Istanbul, Turkey.
The IOC has ostensibly cured itself of bribe-taking, thanks to Salt Lake City. It should make an honest decision.
Since five great cities remain in contention, the only certainty is that four will be bitterly disappointed. They should not have Washington to blame.