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British Olympian Hits Out At China Amid Gagging Row

Posted by Author on February 13, 2008

AFP, Feb. 11, 2008-

LONDON (AFP) — A British Olympian called on China to do more to end the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region on Tuesday, amid a row over attempts by the British Olympic Association to gag its athletes.

Richard Vaughan, a quarter-finalist in badminton at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and currently ranked 30th in the world, said in a statement released Tuesday that it was “very difficult to keep a polite silence about a conflict that continues to cost so many lives.”

His comments came just days after the BOA backed down over its plan to prevent the country’s competitors from commenting on “politically sensitive issues” surrounding the Games in Beijing this summer.

More than 200,000 people have died from war, famine and disease, and upwards of two million have fled their homes in Darfur since ethic minority rebels began fighting against Sudan’s Arab-dominated regime in 2003.

China — Sudan’s biggest foreign trade partner which has also invested more than 400 million dollars (275 million euros) in Darfur alone — has drawn criticism from the West because of claims it was not using its influence to pressure the Khartoum government to do more to end the conflict.

“While many nations have tried to isolate Sudan by breaking economic ties, China has significantly backed the government of Sudan with trade particularly in oil,” Vaughan said in the statement released by campaigning group Crisis Action.

“It has major influence in Sudan and could help to end the suffering of millions of people affected by the conflict in the Darfur region … In the spirit of the Games, I would ask China as all nations to help Darfur, so that athletes can compete safe in the knowledge that everything is being done to stop the conflict.”

Vaughan, who is expected to be a member of Britain’s team at the Beijing Games, added that he appreciated “it’s a difficult position” for the BOA.

Crisis Action said a letter would be delivered to Chinese embassies around the world calling for action on the crisis in Darfur that has been signed by Vaughan, along with seven Nobel Peace prize winners and several other politicians and celebrities.

Beijing Olympic organisers said Monday they backed a ban on political protests by athletes attending the August 8-24 Summer Games, with organising committee spokesman Sun Weide saying all athletes were expected to follow the Olympic Charter, which outlaws political acts……. (more details from AFP)

One Response to “British Olympian Hits Out At China Amid Gagging Row”

  1. Anish said

    Nice blog.

    Like the way u express things.

    Cheerz
    Anish
    http://coversports.blogspot.com

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