“The health of the athletes is absolutely not in any danger,” Rogge said yesterday. “It might be that some will have to have a slightly reduced performance, but nothing will harm the health of the athletes. The IOC will take care of that.”
Speaking on a visit to Singapore, Rogge said he saw no momentum toward boycotts of the Olympics over political issues, and was unhappy with protests during the torch relay but accepted people’s right to demonstrate.
“He decided so far — I’m saying so far because we don’t know how things will evolve — not to participate in the marathon,” he said. “I would say, wait and see … when he sees the data that we are providing for them.”
Rogge had previously said outdoor events in August’s games could be delayed if the air quality was too poor.
Pollution — in addition to the violence in Tibet and other human rights issues — had been a major concern for China and the International Olympic Committee in the leadup to the Aug. 8-24 Olympics. Some athletes are reportedly considering wearing masks to ward off the bad air in Beijing, while many will delay their arrival in China’s capital until the last possible moment.
The Tibet protests and other human rights issues had led activists to call for boycotts of the Beijing Olympics, and some high-ranking political leaders — including French President Nicolas Sarkozy — had said they may boycott the opening ceremony.
“We are not seeing a real momentum on boycotts by governments,” Rogge said. “There are talks about the potential boycotts of the opening ceremony. It is up to the heads of government to decide if they want to come to Beijing or not.”
The early stages of the torch relay had attracted protests by activists, mostly concerned with Tibetan sovereignty, and more were expected as it traveled through western Europe and the United States.
“We are definitely not happy with the protests,” Rogge said. “If people want to protest, we are for the freedom of speech and expression. They can protest as long as it is not violent.”
Bubka cautioned against any prevention of athlete participation, speaking from his personal experience of 1984 when the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics as payback for the United States doing the same at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.View Entire Story
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