Exiled Tibetans to host their own 'Olympics' in northern India

Tibetans in exile will host their own version of the Olympics in the northern Indian city of Dharmsala in May to highlight their people's plight under Chinese rule, an organizer said Monday.

The "Tibetan Olympics 2008" will be held May 15-25 in Dharmsala . home of Tibet's spiritual leader Dalai Lama and headquarters of his government-in-exile.

"This will highlight the plight of Tibetan people living in Tibet and in exile," organizer Lobsang Wangyal told The Associated Press.

Tibetan organizers will select 15 male and female athletes between the ages of 15 and 30 to take part in the games, which will include track and field events, swimming, shooting and archery, Wangyal said.

Their version of the Olympic torch relay is already traveling around the world, he added.

Wangyal, who has also organized the Miss Tibet beauty pageant in Dharmsala since 2002 . said financing for the Tibetan games was scarce and he planned to auction the torch on eBay to raise money.

India usually allows Tibetan exiles to protest peacefully, but this month it detained and prevented several dozen demonstrators from marching to Tibet, where they planned to arrive at the start of the Beijing Olympics in August.

New Delhi said it would not tolerate actions that embarrassed China.

Chinese Communist troops occupied Tibet in 1951 and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand.

Demonstrations started by monks in the capital Lhasa on March 10, the anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule, exploded into rioting, looting and arson four days later.

China's reported death toll is 22, but Tibet's exiled government says 80 Tibetans were killed. Another 19 died in subsequent violence in China's Gansu province, it said.

Copyright © 2008 AP

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International Herald Tribune – http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008 /03/24/asia/AS-GEN-India-Tibet-Olympics.php