IOC: Don't Boycott Olympics Over Tibet
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, 15 March 2008 (Reuters) International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge poured cold water Saturday on calls for a boycott of the Summer Games in Beijing over China's crackdown in Tibet, saying it would only hurt athletes.
"We believe that the boycott doesn't solve anything," Rogge told reporters on this Caribbean island. "On the contrary, it is penalizing innocent athletes and it is stopping the organization from something that definitely is worthwhile organizing."
Demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet on Friday — the most violent riots there in nearly two decades — left at least 30 protesters dead, according to a Tibetan exile group. China ordered tourists out of Tibet's capital and troops patrolled the streets on Saturday.
On a six-day tour of the Caribbean, Rogge expressed condolences for the victims and said he hopes calm will be restored immediately. He declined to say whether the committee would change its stance if violence continues or more people are killed.
"The International Olympic Committee has consistently resisted calls for a boycott of the Olympic games," Rogge said. He declined to comment further on Tibet during a brief news conference.
IOC Vice President Thomas Bach said the committee will speak with China about human rights and condemned the crackdown, saying "every use of violence is a step backwards."
But "a boycott would be the wrong way because that will cut lines of communication," he added.
The committee issued a statement calling for an end to the violence.
"The IOC shares the world's desire for a peaceful resolution to the tensions of past days in the Tibetan region of China," it said. "We hope that calm can return to the region as quickly as possible."
Copyright © 2008 AP