Awarding Beijing the 2008 Olympic Games would prevent an invasion of Taiwan until after the event. This is one argument put forward by supporters of the capital against its four rivals for the 2008 Games - Paris, Osaka, Toronto and Istanbul. One of the five cities will be chosen next July at a Moscow meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). With the just-concluded 27th Games in Sydney, the focus will now shift to competition between the cities. 'In making their decision, the IOC delegates have many factors to consider,' said one diplomat. 'One is the fear that, after giving the Games to Beijing, there is a repeat of the events in 1989, the state killing a large number of civilians, which would force the IOC to consider taking the Games away from Beijing. 'But you can turn that argument on its head. Giving Beijing the Games would make such human rights violations less likely to occur. If Beijing launched a war or even limited military action against Taiwan, she would either lose the Games or face a boycott that would make them meaningless. 'For a country so concerned with face and prestige, that would be unthinkable. So giving Beijing the Games would rule out a war with Taiwan until at least 2008.' In his National Day speech on Saturday night, Premier Zhu Rongji warned that the question of Taiwan could not be put off indefinitely and China wanted to see reunification 'at an early date'. The official media yesterday revelled in the success of the country's athletes in Sydney, with 28 gold, 16 silver and 15 bronze medals, ranking third after the United States and Russia to achieve China's best performance at an Olympics. He Zhenliang, former vice-president of the IOC and one of China's most senior sports officials, said he was confident of winning the 2008 Games.