Boycotting the Olympics Part II

  • 2008-07-30
  • In cooperation with BNS

Photo: E Russell

VILNIUS- LithuanianPresident Valdas Adamkus has decided not to go to the Beijing Summer OlympicGames 2008, announced his press service.

According to the press release, the Lithuanian Head-of-State will not take part in the opening of theOlympic Games, however plans to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) thisfall.

The release notes that Adamkus wishes the greatest of luck tothe Lithuanian athletes andplans on be active in rooting for their success.

Having noted that hosting the Olympic Games is a great honorand responsibility for any country, as it thus becomes committed to maintainand respect the spirit and principles of the Olympics, Adamkus wished China thebest of luck in organizing this global athletic event.

The LithuanianHead-of-State also hopes that the Olympic Games will help the world to becomemore familiar with China's rich history, culture and people, and China'sopening up to the world and the dialogue and progress currently in developmentwill be successfully continued after the games as well.

As the president decided against going to Beijing, thecountry's Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas will be the highest-ranking Lithuanian official present in theOlympic Games. The prime minister will be visiting in China together with hiswife August 17-25th.

Worldwide prompts for boycotting the Beijing Olympic Gamesspread following actions taken by the Chinese government to suppress unrestthat broke out this spring in Tibet. A non-formal freedom for Tibet supportgroup operating in Lithuania hasalso made analogous exhortations many a time and went on to gather signaturesof over 3,000 inhabitants in favor of the initiative.

Mass protests against China's rule in Tibet broke out inMarch. Encounters between Tibetans and Chinese police as well as army unitswere reported, claiming human lives. Protests in Tibet's capital Lhasa turnedinto riots and later extended to neighboring regions of China with a largepopulation of Tibetans.

Lithuania and other members of the European Union (EU) have stated concern overthe unrest in Tibet, speaking for peaceful regulation of the relations betweenthe Chinese administration and Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

The president's decision not to attend theopening of the Olympic Games in Beijing is the only possible political move todraw the attention to the Tibet issue, says Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas.

"I see the president's move as a certain political moveof support to Tibet's independence aspiration. The president is not attendingthe opening ceremony, and participation in the Olympic Games in general is anentirely different thing. I am a guest invited by the International OlympicCommittee and I intend to be there to support our athletes," thevacationing prime minister said.

In an interview to BNS,the prime minister restated that the essence of Olympic Games is that"people set aside conflicts and wars."

"I believe sports and politics should not be confused.However, on the other hand, non-participation in the Opening Ceremony of theOlympic Games is the only possible move to draw the attention to Tibetanproblems," said Kirkilas.