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European Olympic boycott fears allayed

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Mihir Bose | 16:44 UK time, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

An interesting tale reaches me on the joint meeting of the European sports ministers and European Olympic committees that came out unanimously against a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

The meeting took place in Slovenia on Monday and I am told that on Sunday night the 27 presidents of the European Olympic committees made it clear that any talk of Tibet or a boycott of the Olympics was not on their agenda and they would not want it on the joint declaration.

The two groups first met separately and the Olympic chiefs did not discuss Tibet.

But I am also told that when the sports ministers had their own separate meeting they did discuss the issue and some of the northern Europeans felt rather strongly about it and there was some discussion about events in Tibet and the consequences for the Games.

When the groups convened for the the joint meeting the Danish sports minister did start talking about the issue but Britain's sport's minister Gerry Sutcliffe effectively intervened to say that this was an issue for foreign ministers and sports ministers should not go into areas that do not concern them.

The result was a declaration which stated clearly that there was no question of boycotting the Olympics.

Patrick Hickey, the President of the European Olympic Association told me: "We were very happy that it was a unanimous decision of both groups not to support a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

"It showed great unity between the European ministers and the president of the Olympic Committee."

So despite concerns in some countries about events in Tibet there is no indication that there is any appetite for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.


  1. At 07:36 PM on 19 Mar 2008, Haaby wrote:

    No way it could have worked, the boycott by the European sports' chairwarmers

    Nonetheless, there is a way, some arm twisting: don't watch the TV for the Games. Let the audience ratings fall and show the ad people that financing the Games is a bad investment. No TV, no $.
    Let us try it?

  2. At 07:48 AM on 20 Mar 2008, Mund wrote:

    As always we acquiesce, why not speak out. I suppose with London having 2012 they obviously want as many experienced athlete as possible. Wonder if this has any reason why Mr Sutcliffe felt the need to intervene.

    Why did it have to be our man intervening? I feel ashamed.

  3. At 01:28 PM on 21 Mar 2008, windvolker wrote:

    In my opinion it´s a good decision to take part in the Beijing Olympics:
    1. A boycott will probably cause boycotts for following Olympics (like Moscow 1980 did obviously for Los Angeles 1984). This can´t be in the interest of the UK because London`s the next Olympic city.
    2. A political dialogue is most appropriate to improve the situation in Tibet. A boycott won´t create a good climate for discussing the problems of Tibet.
    3. The losers of a Olympic boycott are firstly the athletes, not the staging country.
    But for me there´s an example in history which shows how Olympic games can obviously be abused politically: the Berlin games 1936. In this case a boycott would have been justified in my opinion. Unfortunately this didn´t happen.

  4. At 02:49 PM on 24 Mar 2008, Paul Crookall wrote:

    Gerry Sutcliffe's "Give Unto Caesar" argument is neither logical nor moral. Do Sports Ministers and Foreign Secretaries neither sit in the same Cabinet, nor belong to the same government or majority parliamentary party ?

    Britain used to be a natural ally of the Scandinavian countries and espoused a similar ethos in her overseas outlook, rather than parroting the self-excusing indifference of globalised profiteering.

    It is difficult to see who would follow China in a tit-for-tat boycott of London 2012 - Albania ? Pakistan ? North Korea ?

    There is no Chinese bloc whose withdrawal could be in any wise similar to the competitive impact in 1984 caused to the Los Angeles Games by the absences of the U.S.S.R., East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania from the major events in track & field, swimming, boxing and gymnastics.

  5. At 03:51 PM on 24 Mar 2008, Kassra wrote:

    if a boycott of 2008 was then followed by a counter-boycott of 2012 then this could help the UK achieve it's aim of finishing 4th in the medal tables in 2012 ;)

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