Avoiding Beijing would hurt athletes: VANOC

francois lenoir/reuters


A protester wears a mask with a picture of the Dalai Lama in front of the Chinese embassy in Brussels yesterday, as part of worldwide demonstrations against China’s crackdown in Tibet. With more protests planned in Vancouver this weekend, yesterday’s VANOC news conference was dominated by questions about boycotting the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics said boycotting the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games over the violence in Tibet would only hurt athletes.

Vancouver Organizing Committee CEO John Furlong said yesterday the beauty of sport is there are no borders.

“Boycotting the Games serves little or no purpose except to penalize athletes who really serve as the best role models there are,” he said during a Vancouver news conference dominated by questions about Beijing.

On March 15, violence broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa at a demonstration marking the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese occupation. Upwards of 100 people were killed, sparking protests worldwide.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said there haven’t been any government calls for a boycott of the Beijing Games.

On Saturday, busloads of pro-Tibet demonstrators from Washington and Oregon are expected to rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Several pro-Tibet rallies have already been held in Vancouver since March 15.With files from Reuters

1980 Games

  • Canada was among the Western countries that refused to compete in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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