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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Athletes considering Beijing boycott: IOC official

March 17, 2008

Agence France Presse
March 16, 2008

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."
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