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British athletes asked to give Tibet a sporting chance
FTC[Tuesday, July 08, 2008 10:11]
One month before the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Free Tibet Campaign is taking steps to ensure all British athletes competing at the Beijing Olympics understand the situation in Tibet and the human rights issues inherent in the staging of the 2008 Games. The organisation has prepared a briefing, ‘Give Tibet a sporting chance’ (PDF), which has been sent to the chairmen of all relevant sporting associations with a request it be distributed to athletes.

Free Tibet Campaign acting director Anne Holmes hand delivered a copy of the briefing to Lord Moynihan, Chairman of the British Olympic Association, on Thursday 3 July. Lord Moynihan has agreed to review the document with a view to recommending its distribution to all British athletes competing in Beijing.

The briefing seeks to assure athletes that protests earlier this year during the Olympic Torch Relay “were never against the Chinese people nor were they against sport or sportspeople”, but instead “were intended to highlight human rights abuses in Tibet and to prevent the Chinese government attacking the Olympic ideals.”

It goes on to explain how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and China established the link between the Olympics and human rights by pledging that staging the Games in China would lead to an improvement in China’s human rights record. Instead, as the briefing points out, the human rights situation in Tibet has worsened appreciably, leading to this year’s widespread protests in Tibet and the Olympic Torch Relay becoming a magnet for protests against China’s human rights abuses.

The briefing, which makes clear that Free Tibet Campaign has never sought an athletic boycott of the Beijing Games, does offer some suggestions of ways athletes can show their concern for the situation in Tibet whilst in Beijing. It encourages athletes to voice their concerns during press interviews or by simply making a “T for Tibet” hand signal during the Games “to show support for the struggle of the Tibetan people”.

Anne Holmes said: “British – and all other – athletes must act as their consciences dictate. Of course we would love to see an athlete dedicate a medal to Tibet or appear in the stadium wearing a Free Tibet t-shirt, but we are making no demands. We are simply providing facts – which speak for themselves. After that, it’s up to the athletes.”
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