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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."

Beijing Podium Protests Possible

May 12, 2008

The Associated Press
May 10, 2008

SYDNEY, Australia: Australian Olympic chief John Coates said Saturday
that he believes there's a good chance some athletes will protest on
the medal podium at the Beijing Olympics.

"It is a real possibility," Coates said following the Australian
Olympic Committee's annual general meeting Saturday.

"The IOC doesn't want the competition to be prejudiced in any way by
any demonstrations. They may happen and they'll have to be dealt with
depending on how serious they are."

China has been heavily criticized by world leaders for its human
rights record and for the recent crackdown in Tibet. The Olympic
torch's journey around the world was marred by protesters ahead of
the Aug. 8-24 games.

Coates said there could be podium demonstrations in Beijing similar
to the black power protest on the medal podium by American track
athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Smith and Carlos raised their black-gloved fists and bowed their
heads during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Both were
expelled from the games.

Coates' comments came as the AOC loosened its protest guidelines for
Australian athletes. The new guidelines, announced at the annual
general meeting, expand on protest rules issued during the week by
the International Olympic Committee.

The AOC says athletes must respect the dignity of the host nation
China, their fellow athletes and the Olympic charter.

But it said athletes were free to express their opinions on Tibet,
human rights and other such issues in media interviews and online
blogs, but cannot place protest signs or propaganda on clothing or
equipment. It said any breach of the Olympic charter would result in
disqualification from the games.

"We don't want banners and T-shirts and things in the village, which
is meant to be a place where 10,500 athletes get together," Coates said.

"You can imagine that if the Iraqi team turned up with T-shirts
telling us and Britain and the U.S. to get out of Iraq, there could
be some unpleasant things happen in the village. And similarly I
think we have to respect the athletes of all countries, including
China, in the village."
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