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EU rejects calls to boycott China Olympics

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Latest update : 2008-03-18

The European Union has refused calls to boycott this summer's Olympic games in China after violent protests in Tibet. (Report: O.Fairclough)

BRDO, Slovenia, March 17 (Reuters) - A boycott of the
Olympic Games over China's response to unrest in Tibet would not
be the right answer, the European Union said on Monday, urging
the Beijing government and protesters to show restraint.
 

"We condemn violence. But on the question of boycotting the
Games, nobody around the table today believes that a boycott is
the right answer," EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel told a news
conference after a meeting of the bloc's 27 sports ministers and
members of the International Olympic Committee.
 

China, which has sent in troops to enforce control in the
regional capital Lhasa, said on Monday the violent protests by
Tibetans were organised by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking
to derail the Beijing Olympics in August.
 

The EU repeated its call for "restraint on all sides".
"We urge the Chinese authorities to refrain from using force
against those involved in unrest and call on demonstrators to
desist from violence," it said in a statement later on Monday.
 

The upsurge in violence since last Monday -- the 49th
anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule over the
Himalayan region -- has been accompanied by a spate of protests
and attacks on Chinese embassies abroad.
 


 

PEACEFUL RESOLUTION URGED
 

"The EU firmly supports peaceful reconciliation between
Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama and his representatives.
The EU urges the Chinese government to address the concerns of
Tibetans with regard to issues of human rights," the EU
statement said.
 

The IOC, which has also called for a peaceful resolution to
the violence, defended its decision to award sport's greatest
showpiece to Asian powerhouse China, which has been criticised
widely for its human rights record.
 

"Not one world leader has sought a boycott of the Games, not
even the great Dalai Lama," Pat Hickey, president of the IOC's
European Olympic Committee, told the news conference.
 

"I do not think it was an incorrect decision to award the
Games to China, I think it was a very good decision. Boycotts
have never worked ... the only people who are punished in a
boycott are athletes."
 

China has previously come under close scrutiny over its
policy towards Sudan, with which it has close economic ties, and
Beijing's support for Myanmar, whose military rulers staged a
bloody crackdown on monk-led protesters last year.
 

Last month, politicians and high-profile individuals such as
film director Steven Spielberg questioned China over its failure
to help halt the bloodshed in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Date created : 2008-03-17

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