Calls on Olympic Committee to Cancel Torch Relay Stops in Tibet
Lausanne - The National Olympic Committee Tibet withdrew its request to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today for a Tibetan team to participate in the Beijing Olympics. The Tibetan athletes demanded that the IOC immediately remove all Olympic Torch Relay stops in Tibet, including Tibetan areas now in Chinese provinces. The relay, which begins in Greece in one week, is set to run through Lhasa and other Tibetan cities, as well as up Mount Everest. It is seen by Tibetans as a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to use the Olympics to stake their claim on Tibet and, given the current protests in Tibet against Chinese rule, can only be seen as a provocation.
“We are very saddened by the IOC’s refusal to condemn the killings in Tibet that have been taking place since Friday,” said Dominik Kelsang Erne (table tennis, men’s singles). “ China’s actions are not those of an acceptable Olympic host and we Tibetan athletes have no desire to participate in an Olympics built on bloodshed and suffering. We fully understand the hopes and dreams that all athletes bring to the Olympics, but we hope that athletes from other nations will not forget the Tibetans’ struggle and will show their solidarity when in Beijing.”
Wangpo Tethong, the President of the NOC Tibet said, “We are halting our endeavor to send a Tibetan Team and individual athletes to Beijing 2008. We have shown our preparedness to meet with world youth, including Chinese athletes, in a spirit of reconciliation and friendship. But now in view of the brute force being used by China against our fellow countrymen in Tibet, we cannot in good conscience take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing.”
One hundred and fifty Tibet support organizations sent a letter on Saturday to the International Olympic Committee, demanding that the IOC immediately remove all stops in Tibet and Tibetan areas of the Chinese provinces from the Olympic Torch Relay route. They are also calling on IOC President Jacques Rogge to make a public statement of concern about the current situation in Tibet. Team Tibet athletes have joined their call.
The National Olympic Committee Tibet will continue its efforts to bring Team Tibet to London 2012 and maintains its belief in the right of young Tibetans to represent their own nation at sports events alongside other nations of the world.
Keli Gope (board member) +41 79 506 85 12 (German, French)
Wangpo Tethong (president) +41 78 744 30 10 (English)