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Dalai Lama fakes love of cricket to impress India, China claims

May 12, 2010

China has accused the Dalai Lama of faking a passion for cricket to
impress his Indian hosts.

By Dean Nelson in New Delhi ?Published: 3:16PM BST 11 May 2010

The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism aroused Beijing's anger when he
attended an Indian Premier League Twenty-20 cricket match as a special
guest last month when Chennai Super Kings played Kings XI Punjab.

The match was staged at the cricket stadium in Dharamsala, the Dalai
Lama's home in exile since he fled China's occupation of Tibet in 1959.

Prior to the match, he held a "spiritual dialogue" with the players,
including Australia international Andrew Symonds and Indian
international Yuvraj Singh, and blessed their team mates with white silk

During the session, the Dalai Lama said he had never been much of a
sportsman, but recalled once beating Zhou Enlai, the former Chinese
premier, at table tennis. He added that he had enjoyed playing football
as a young man in exile, and liked cricket.

Sri Lankan players had earlier been warned by their government in
Colombo not to meet the Dalai Lama because it would anger China.

Beijing's ire was voiced earlier this week in an editorial in the
government-run People's Daily newspaper, in which the spiritual leader
was denounced for describing himself as a "son of India" and pretending
a love of cricket to please its government.

"The religious leader was trying to prove to be a worthy son of India by
participating in the country's favourite pastime... Cricket is one of
the most popular sports in India and the Dalai Lama of course has to
have fun with his 'dad' since he wants to be a son of India," the
article said.

The People's Daily claimed he had no right to speak on "China's internal
issue concerning Tibet" if he was the "son of a foreign country".

The paper's comments were rejected by a spokesman for the Tibetan
Government in Exile.

"It reflects the Chinese government's arrogance; since His Holiness the
Dalai Lama had no freedom in Tibet, he left for India, where he enjoys
freedom. What he does or he does not do, depends on his choice," the
spokesman said.

The religious leader stayed to the "very last ball" of the match,
drinking tea with Preity Zinta, the Bollywood actress, and fielding
questions from cricketers.

When asked by Yuvraj Singh, the Indian international, about his
favourite sport, he said: "When I came to India in 1959, I played
football. I like cricket but [only] up to the matter that who is winning
and who is losing," he said.
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