March 16 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Thomas Bach says a number of top athletes are considering boycotting the games in China over the bloody crackdown on protesters in Tibet.
"Several sports stars are feeling ill at ease when they think about the Olympic Games. Some are even considering cancelling," Mr Bach, of Germany, told Sunday's edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
Mr Bach said he understood the athletes' concerns about the situation in Tibet but said he was advising them to participate.
"They will realise when they assess the situation that it is better to make an appearance than to stay away. That is a symbol that will be noticed by the public," he said.
Asked if human rights had been a concern when Beijing was selected to host the Games in August, Mr Bach said the IOC believed the intense focus on China would have a positive effect.
"We are of the opinion that the Games will help China open up. But we cannot solve the problems that UN secretaries general have not been able to solve for generations," he said.
"The Olympic Games can foster change and be a catalyst for a solution but they are not a panacea."
Mr Bach said the current debate over China reminded him of the discussions before the US-led boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
He urged an end to the violence in Tibet.
"We call on both sides to reject violence," he said. "I hope there will be a peaceful solution."