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Keep politics out of Olympics, IOC tells China
ABC/AFP[Wednesday, June 25, 2008 19:42]
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reminded China to draw a line between sports and politics, after a Communist party official lashed out at independence sentiment in Tibet during the Olympic flame relay there.

"The IOC regrets that political statements were made during the closing ceremony of the torch relay in Tibet," it said, reacting to Saturday's remarks (local time) by Zhang Qingli, the Chinese Communist party secretary in Tibet.

"We have written to BOCOG (Beijing Olympics Organising Committee) to remind them of the need to separate sport and politics and to ask for their support in making sure that such situations do not arise again," it added, in an email from its headquarters in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

In his remarks Saturday about striving for "the glory of the motherland," Mr Zhang accused supporters of the Dalai Lama of trying to destroy the Olympics that open on August 8 in the Chinese capital.

"In order to bring more glory to the Olympic spirit, we should firmly smash the plots to ruin the Beijing Olympic Games by the Dalai clique and hostile foreign forces inside and outside of the nation," he said.

Tighter security was in place as the Olympic flame made its final stop in front of the Potala Palace, the one-time home of the exiled Dalai Lama, in a ceremony that was shortened for reasons that were not disclosed.

The global running of the Olympic flame has been mired in controversy and headline-grabbing incidents since riots broke out three months ago in Lhasa and prompted a harsh crackdown on Tibetan opponents of Chinese rule.

Tibetans in exile claim 203 people have died as the result of what they call Chinese government "repression".

Beijing counters than 21 have died at the hand of "rioters," and that it had suppressed a Tibetan "rebellion".

Meanwhile Chinese organisers have cancelled the international legs of the Paralympic torch relay.

The torch was scheduled to visit Olympic host cities of London, Vancouver and Sochi, as well as Hong Kong before the start of the Paralympics in September.

However it will now be restricted to mainland China.
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  Readers' Comments »
politics out of Olympics? (Fehr)
another modest proposal to the IOC (garuda)
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