Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Carrying the Olympic torch and guilty over Tibet? Here's your PR spin

April 8, 2008

Daily Mail
6th April 2008

Organisers of the Olympic torch relay through London have tried to
advise celebrities taking part what to say if they are questioned about
China's human rights record.

Torch carriers including Denise Van Outen, Sir Steve Redgrave, Tessa
Sanderson and Tim Henman have been given an official "line" by
spin-doctors trying to minimise controversy.

But last night one participant broke ranks.

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq launched a stinging attack on the
Beijing government, which is hosting this summer's Games.

Miss Huq said: "My participation does not in any way indicate support
for the harsh and oppressive manner in which the Chinese regime
continues to treat the people of Tibet and which I find despicable."

As Scotland Yard prepared 2,000 police officers for a £1million
operation to protect the flame on its 31-mile journey past some of
London's most famous landmarks, actress Joanna Lumley promised to join
the demonstrators and accused the Chinese government of showing contempt
for the Olympic ideal.

Security will be particularly tight around the Chinese ambassador to
Britain, Fu Ying, who has refused to withdraw from today's ceremony.

The controversial "message" to torchbearers was drawn up by Freud
Communications, which represents the London Olympic organisers.

In an email seen by The Mail on Sunday, Freud Communications' Pippa
Rodger wrote: "As discussed, please find below the official statement
that torchbearers can use should they receive any interview or media
requests on the day."

The advice states: "The torch relay is ultimately about the Olympic
movement and the Olympic ideals, rather than about any one country or
the athletes taking part.

"Like Steve Redgrave and Duncan Goodhew, I am taking part as a
celebration of those sporting ideals and because the Olympic and
Paralympic Games are coming to London in 2012. The relay is the call to
the athletes of the world that the Games are coming."

But Dalha Tsering, co-ordinator of the Tibetan Community in Britain
campaign group, said: "This is like Chairman Mao's Red Book, which
Chinese people had to quote from during the Cultural Revolution.

"Each of the 80 runners must have a different view, not just one
opinion. They should be allowed to say what they really think."

The 80 torchbearers include not only celebrities invited by sponsors,
but also members of youth organisations and winners of school competitions.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who is to address a pro-Tibet rally,
urged torchbearers to wear protest T-shirts.

But organisers have told runners they will be allowed to take part only
if they wear the approved kit bearing the Beijing Games logo.

"Torchbearers are now embroiled in a political situation," said Mr
Baker. "If they say nothing about Tibet, they are complicit with the
Chinese. They have to make a choice."

But Sir Steve Redgrave, invited by Samsung, said protest groups "have
the opportunity to make their political points because of the Games
going to Beijing. If we all pulled out now, they would not have that

Denise Van Outen, invited by Coca-Cola, said: "I have nothing to say.
You will have to talk to my agent."

Protests are also expected over the Chinese government's links with the
military regime in Burma and Sudan.

Last night, Pippa Rodger said her email was sent to representatives of
all torchbearers.

She added: "We have never advised them what to say. They have their own
views on this. We just wanted to let them know what our statement is."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank