sharing the Olympic spirit

British FM opposes Beijing Olympics boycott
Updated: 2008-02-24 14:03


LONDON - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband reiterated on Saturday his opposition against a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games this summer.

"I do not support an Olympic boycott. I do support engagement with China on the need to work together internationally to nurture the potential gains of globalization," Miliband said on his blog upon his six-day visit to China.

"China depends on that cooperation; so do we," Miliband wrote. The 29th Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing in August this year.

"I am immensely looking forward to my visit, which I expect to be instructive, thought-provoking and inspiring in equal measure," he said on the blog. Miliband's visit to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing will begin on Sunday.

"My aims are simple: to try to understand the country better, to compare notes on the challenges of equality, security and sustainability in our two countries, and to forge relationships that foster Anglo-Chinese cooperation at an international level in the pursuit of shared goals," he concluded.

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The British foreign secretary made clear his position last week, saying boycotting the Beijing Olympics is not the right path to take.

"We are ever excited about prospects for the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing," Miliband told Chinese reporters in London Wednesday.

"Everything we have seen and read suggests that preparations are proceeding in an excellent way. We very much look forward to a very successful Olympics, successful for China and successful for the world. We certainly believe that boycotts are not a right way, " he said.

Miliband's comments echoed many athletes' voices of refusing to boycott the Olympics. The former Olympic champion Linford Christie said boycotting the Beijing Olympics is an unfair demand to make on those who have dedicated their lives to competing in Beijing.

"Athletes have one chance every four years to compete at the Olympics and they should be allowed to do that," said Christie, who won 100m gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Christie criticized those who pursue a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games as "very hypocritical," saying they "condemn China but all use Chinese electrical goods."

Meanwhile, a recent poll said a large majority of the British public believe it would be wrong for British sportsmen and sportswomen to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

According to the Guardian/ICM poll published on Friday, 72 percent of the surveyed agreed the British team should attend this summer's Games in Beijing.

The ICM polled a random sample of 1,003 adults aged over 18 from around Britain.

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