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Switzerland's Tibetan community bitter about Chinese Olympics

Chokteng says the IOC's decision to give China the 2008 Olympic games will worsen the Tibetans' situation

(Keystone Archive)

The president of Switzerland's Tibetan community, Kalsang Chokteng, has said he resents the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to award the 2008 summer games to China.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper, the "Aargauer Zeitung", on Saturday, Chokteng said the IOC's decision - made on Friday during a secret ballot of its members at a special session in Moscow - would damage the Tibetans' current situation.

"It's a catastrophic decision, a justification of China's brutality towards minorities," Chokteng told the paper.

"Tibetans must now fear harder and more brutal repression from the communist regime," he added.

Chokteng also said he did not share the view that the Olympic Games would help to open up China and bring about political or social reform.

"If there wasn't a totalitarian regime in place, I might be more willing to believe this point of view," he said.

Elsewhere in the Swiss press, there was mixed reaction of the news from Moscow.

The French-speaking newspaper, "Le Temps", was sceptical in its assessment of the decision to hand the 2008 games to Beijing. The paper highlighted issues such as human rights, lack of infrastructure for the games, and the "dubious reputation" of Chinese Olympic athletes who have been accused of doping.

"All these considerations," the paper said, "were ignored by the strong desire to give China the games as expressed by the IOC's president, Juan Antonio Samaranch."

The mass-circulation German-speaking daily, "Blick", focused its attention on how the 2008 Olympics might unfold.

"There can be no doubt that Beijing can and will organise a perfect Olympics," the paper said, before agreeing with the outgoing IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, that the games have "a tremendous symbolic meaning for China".

The Zurich-based newspaper, "Tages Anzeiger", preferred to see the IOC's choice as politically and economically motivated.

"China did not receive the games on sporting or ethical grounds. The IOC's decision was the result of an economical and political calculation."

The German-speaking "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" newspaper, however, chose to adopt a wait-and-see attitude to an event which is still seven years away.

"The decision brings hope - whether in naïve ignorance of China's political machine or with genuine optimism - that the games will give China an opportunity to open up," the paper said in its editorial.

"But it remains to be seen whether China's limited know-how will suffice."

swissinfo with agencies


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