"The Dalai is a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast," [secretary of the Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region] Zhang Qingli was quoted as telling officials. "We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy."Wen Jiabao certainly has his work cut out for him, and this sort of hyperbole doesn't seem to help. The Olympics may turn out to be a pretty large PR fiasco, if it isn't one already. If Beijing doesn't get the air pollution problem mitigated soon and Tibet gets further out of hand, who knows how much worse things can get for the Beijing Olympics? From Bloomberg:
, facing criticism over pollution and human rights, is experiencing "problems'' in the run-up to its first Olympics, Premier Wen Jiabao said. China
The International Olympic Committee yesterday said it may reschedule endurance events affected by
Beijing's smog, while China's actions in Sudanand have pushed human rights groups to seek a boycott of the Aug. 8-24 games. Tibet
Concern before recent Summer Olympics, including
Athensin 2004 and in 1996, centered on venues being ready or too spread out. Criticisms directed at Atlanta organizers stem more from government policies, prompting Wen to accuse detractors of mixing politics and sports. Beijing
"We are still a developing country and it's inevitable that we may have some problems when organizing the Olympics,'' Wen told reporters in
today. "We need to respect the principals of the Olympics and the Olympic charter, that is, we shouldn't politicize the Olympic Games.'' Beijing
Wen said Tibetan protesters were trying to "undermine'' the Olympics, while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked
Chinato exercise restraint in , adding that events there shouldn't be linked to the staging of the Olympics. Even the Dalai Lama, Tibet Tibet's spiritual leader, who accuses of engaging in cultural genocide in the Himalayan region, doesn't want an Olympic boycott. China
Ma Ying-jeou, the leading candidate for
Taiwan's March 22 presidential election, said he may lead a boycott over the crackdown in . "If I'm elected president, I won't rule out stopping sending teams to the Beijing Olympics,'' Tibet 's preferred choice as president, said in an e-mailed statement today. Ma, China
At least 80 people have died in
Tibetduring the biggest protests against Chinese rule in 20 years, according to 's government-in-exile. Tibet , which invaded the Himalayan territory in 1951, refuted March 16 the Dalai Lama's assertion that a "cultural genocide'' is taking place. China
Other politicians, including European Union ministers, have rejected the idea of a boycott, feeling it "would not be the way to work for the respect for human rights,'' Christiane Hohmann, a European Commission spokeswoman, said yesterday.
U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Siebel told the Associated Press a boycott would be "one of the worst ideas ever conceived. Any boycotts won't win the hearts of the people,'' Wang Wei, the top official at the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee, said in an interview today. "The Olympics is for the world and it's especially for the young people…''
's pollution has raised concern among athletes and International Olympic Committee officials. Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's medical commission, said yesterday "some events will not be conducted under optimal conditions'' and the committee is drawing up contingency plans for endurance events. China
organizers have yet to receive notice of such plans, Liu Wenbin, deputy director of the sports department, said in a telephone interview today. "Competition schedules aren't set by the IOC alone,'' Liu said. Any changes "will be a joint decision by the IOC and the international sports federations.'' Beijing
Chinese promises to clear the air in time for the Olympics, including a $17 billion clean-up, haven't convinced all athletes, with world record holder Haile Gebrselassie last week pulling out of the marathon because of health fears. "It's suicide,'' Gebrselassie, an asthmatic, said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais published today.
Wen said allegations
is using the Olympics as an excuse to silence dissenters were "totally unfounded.'' China said last week it broke up a Muslim separatist group that was planning an attack at the Olympics. China
"To host an Olympics is a dream shared by people of many generations in this country,'' Wen added. "I also hope that by hosting the Olympics we will be able to further friendships and cooperation with people from all over the world.''