Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Trash collection goes high tech

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users react to escalating violence in Gaza

Read more

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

  • Live: Germany take on Argentina, Messi and World Cup history

    Read more

  • Major differences remain as deadline looms in Iran nuclear talks

    Read more

  • Germany vs Argentina - history and genius clash in World Cup final

    Read more

  • Israeli navy attacks Hamas base as tanks line up along Gaza border

    Read more

  • French military to extend Mali 'counterterrorism' operations into Sahel

    Read more

  • Legendary conductor Lorin Maazel dies aged 84

    Read more

  • Germany’s Tony Martin wins ninth stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Boko Haram claims Nigeria attacks and supports Iraqi militants

    Read more

  • Paris’s Bastille Day fireworks ‘an homage to victims’ of WWI

    Read more

  • French court lifts mayor’s ban on Muslim hijab at beach

    Read more

  • Shells land in Russia as eastern Ukrainians flee fighting

    Read more

  • Rival Libyan militias exchange heavy fire at Tripoli airport

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament fails to agree on new leadership

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

India's football star pulls out of Olympic torch relay

©

Latest update : 2008-04-01

Bhaichung Bhutia, captain of the Indian national football team, decided not to carry the Olympic torch as a sign of protest against the repression in Tibet.

India's football captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday refused to carry the Olympic torch when it arrives here this month to protest against China's crackdown on unrest in Tibet.

Bhutia, a Buddhist from northeastern Sikkim state, nestled between India, China and Nepal, wrote to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) saying he wanted to "show my solidarity" with Tibetans.

"I sympathise with the Tibetans and their cause. I have sent a letter to the IOA refusing to carry the torch," Bhutia said in a statement.

He also told the Times of India: "I have many friends in Sikkim who follow Buddhism. This is my way of standing by the people of Tibet and their struggle.

"I feel what's happening in Tibet is not right and in my small way I should show my solidarity," he said, adding his decision was "absolutely personal."

Indian Olympic officials said they had not received any communication from Bhutia.

"I have learned from someone that Bhutia has turned down our invitation," IOA secretary general Randhir Singh said. "Since we have not received any letter from him, I would not like to comment on it."

The Olympic torch is due to arrive in India on April 17, and Bhutia was one of several athletes and personalities scheduled to take part in the India-leg of the international relay.

The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile, which supports the Olympics being held in Beijing, reacted cautiously to Bhutia's pull-out.

"If Bhaichung Bhutia took this decision for the plight of Tibetans in China, human rights in particular, the Central Tibetan Administration welcomes it," Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the government-in-exile, told the Kolkata-based Telegraph newspaper.

"But if the decision is against the Olympic Games, we have nothing to say."

Other Tibetan bodies, however, welcomed Bhutia's stand and urged relay runners such as veteran athlete P.T. Usha and Bollywood star Aamir Khan to follow suit.

"We welcome it," said Tibetan Youth Congress president Tsewang Rigzin. "Hope it encourages others like Usha and Aamir Khan.

"Bhaichung is an icon for young Indians. I am proud that he declined the offer for the sake of Tibetans."

Bhutia, who was conferred India's third highest civilian honour for promoting football in a country where cricket is the ruling passion, has scored more than 35 goals at international level.

In a career spanning 15 years, the 31-year-old Bhutia has played for England's Bury F.C. and Perak, the Malaysian championship club, as well as in top-rung domestic tournaments.

India, home to more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees, has witnessed a string of demonstrations since protests first broke out over the border in Lhasa on March 10, the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Officials have not disclosed the route of the torch in India over fears of more protests.

Dubbed the "journey of harmony," the Olympic torch relay which was launched by Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Monday, is the longest ever, lasting 130 days and covering 137,000 kilometres (85,000 miles).

It will pass through 19 countries during April before returning to China on May 4.

Date created : 2008-04-01

Comments

COMMENT(S)