There is no avoiding the Olympic Torch Protests – Bob is beginning to feel like this is the Beijing Olympics Protests Blog – so anyone wanting to read about something else check out the recent stories about Paula Radcliffe, Oscar Pistorius or the Great Firewall. If you are interested on the high-profile comments that have come following the protests surrounding the Olympic torch relay, read on.
Comments have been a plenty, but who has said what?
Speaking in Tokyo ahead of a visit to the US, the Dalai Lama – who many Tibetans regard as their spiritual leader – said he felt China deserved to host the Games, but that protesters had the right to express themselves in non-violent ways.
“These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government.”
“Barack Obama has urged US President George W Bush to consider a boycott of the opening of the Beijing Olympics unless China’s rights record improves.”
“On Thursday, members of the European Parliament will vote on a draft resolution calling on EU leaders to boycott the games if there is no resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama.”
Some senior and influential figures within the IOC are saying ‘we think it was a mistake, we think the torch relay should have stuck to its original plan’ – that is you light it in Olympia and you it is taken straight to the host city.
However, a few “pro-Tibet independence” activists attempted to sabotage the torch relay in London today, which is a serious violation of the Olympic spirit, as the Olympic flame belongs to the world, the spokesman said. The act will surely arouse the resentment of the peace-loving people, and is bound to fail.
Speaking in defence of the Games going to China, and of protesters at the torch relay Redgrave said that protest groups “have the opportunity to make their political points because of the Games going to Beijing. If we all pulled out now, they would not have that chance”.
Bob would just like to clarify a couple of issues. It has been difficult to write about the protests for a number of reasons, particularly because of ‘labelling’ the people involved. For the record Bob has opted for the phrases ‘pro-Tibet’ and ‘pro-China’ because this is simple, and in line with the general media. It is worth making the point however, that many of those protesting against the Beijing Olympics are in not Tibetan, but one of a number of other groups with a grievance with the Chinese government. Many of them, including ironically the Dalai Lama, are not anti-China either – the Dalai has spoken out in favour of China, and China’s right to host the Olympics, but simply demands more cultural/religious autonomy. Like-wise many of those who fall on the other side of the fence would not consider themselves pro-Chinese, but do not believe that the Olympics is the place for this discussion (Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe for example).