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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Athletes should be left alone in protests of Tibet

April 29, 2008

Northern Daily News, Canada
April 28, 2008

It's time to Reid all about it, read all about sports that is. It's that
point of the year again for Kirkland Lake when the snow begins to melt
and people start enjoying the sun and outside. It's a time when summer
sports begin to kick off, such as baseball, soccer, tennis, biking,
running, etc.

Congratulation goes out to the Kirkland Lake Minor Hockey Association as
they had another great season in addition to the lovely banquet they had
over the weekend.

The young swimmers of the Kirkland Lake Aquatic Club also went out and
had a lot of fun at the Top fish swim meet held at the Complex on the
weekend.

This summer has an additional bonus with the 2008 Beijing Summer Games
happening in August. It's a celebration of sport and camaraderie all
around the world, but it's being mired in controversy. This controversy
of course being Tibet's lack of civil liberties and the protests that
have been happening in and out of its borders.

Many countries have been urged by protestors from countries all over the
world to not participate in the opening ceremonies of the games.
Countries such as Germany have had many of their top government
officials not attending the opening ceremonies, but countries like
Canada say it only victimizes its athletes.

It's deplorable what is happening in Tibet, but it's not up to athletes
to change this political turmoil, it's up to diplomats and politicians.
It's all right for these athletes to have an opinion on what is going on
in Tibet, but ultimately it's something the United Nations has to look
at and see if there can be a diplomatic solution.

Looking to the past as an example when the United States boycotted the
Olympics in 1980 to protest Russia's invasion of Afghanistan and the
subsequent boycott of Russia at the 1984 games in Los Angeles, all it
did was hurt the athletes and athletes not partaking in the Olympic
games. It resolved nothing. It just hurt the Olympic careers of many
athletes.

Don't get me wrong something needs to happen. Tibet deserves its freedom
from tyranny, but athletes are not the ones who are going to make that
change. Governments all over the world will have to organize a way for
China and the Dalai Lama to have discussions on the matter.

In comparison to this matter, what if Israel was given the Olympic
games. Would it be up to the athletes to boycott in order to end
apartheid? I don't think so. Sports are not a bargaining tool for
politics. It should not be used for protest against something it
ultimately has no power to control.

Lets say what if all of the countries did boycott the opening ceremonies
to the 2008 Beijing Summer Games in order to protest the plight of
Tibet. Nothing would happen. Do you think for one minute that communist
China would give up Tibet over athletes not attending their opening
ceremonies? It would be an insult to China, yes, but it would not deter
them in any of their political concerns.

Another issue on this matter is that of the torch relay that has
protestors at many of its venues around the world, most notably in
Britain, where the torch was extinguished and was halted for the safety
of the torchbearer.

The protestors have the right ideals in wanting a free Tibet, but
they're going at it in the wrong places. Maybe it was wrong for China to
receive the Olympic games, but it's the athletes the protestors are
hurting in the long run. They shouldn't be attacking the games, but
pleading their case to the government of their own countries to make a
case for Tibet.

The idea of a free Tibet has been going on for decades now and a boycott
of any part of the 2008 Beijing Games is not going to resolve the issue
any time soon.

Athletes shouldn't be denied the right to participate in the games and
they should only be involved in what has to do with athletics.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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