Tibetans will hold their own Olympics in 2008
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 18 May 2007 Tibetan exiles in India announced plans yesterday for a sporting event next year that organisers hope will take some of the shine off the 2008 Olympics in China. The ten-day Tibetan "Olympics" will take place from May 10 next year in northern India's hilltop town of Dharamsala, the headquarters of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
"This is going to be purely a sporting event for Tibetans living in exile, as they would not be able to go to Beijing for the Olympics," said Lobsang Wangyal, the head of the organising committee. "Finding funds will not be a problem as Tibetan organisations worldwide will donate," he added. He estimated the cost of the games, which will include marathon, swimming, shooting, archery and track and field events, at around $90,000.
"We have a large swimming pool which will have to do," Wangyal said, referring to the planned swimming contests. China has ruled Tibet since sending troops in to "liberate" the region in 1951 and has violently suppressed a number of uprisings since then. The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharamsala since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
Amnesty International has accused Beijing of using the Olympics, to be held from August 8 to August 24 next year, to crack down on peaceful dissent in the name of stability — charges that China has rejected. Wangyal, much to China's annoyance, has already staged several " Miss Tibet" beauty pageants in Dharamsala.
Last year Miss Tibet " Tashi Yangchen was barred from taking part in a " beauty contest in Malaysia after Beijing complained that a woman who lived in India could not represent a part of China. The Dalai Lama has abandoned his original call for independence for his homeland in favour of "meaningful autonomy" to preserve Tibet's language, culture and environment.