04/01/2008, 00.00
INDIA – CHINA
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The captain of the Indian Soccer team boycotts the Olympic torch

Bhaichung Bhutia will not carry the Olympic symbol during its passage through India, in protest at the Chinese authority’s use of violence in Tibet. He is the second athlete to send a sign to Beijing.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In a sign o support for the Tibetan people and in protest against the Chinese government’s use of violence, the captain of the Indian soccer team Bhaichung Bhutia will not carry the Olympic torch during its stay in India.

The athlete made known his decision yesterday to the Indian Olympic Committee who had chosen him as the bearer of the Olympic flame to New Delhi, due to rake place on April 17th.  Speaking to the Times of India, Bhutia says: “This is my way of standing by the people of Tibet and their struggle.  I abhor violence in any form”.

The footballer is from the North Eastern State of Sikkim, which borders China: “I have many Buddhist friends, and I sympathise with the Tibetan people, who are victims of an unheard of repression”.  Before him, a Thai torch bearer - Narisa Chakrabongse, president of the Green World Foundation – announced her decision not to bear the torch: “I want to send a message to China: its actions cannot be accepted by the international community.  Its policies regarding Tibet must be urgently revised”.

The torch left Beijing this morning, where it had been lit by President Hu Jintao, and arrived in Almaty, Kazakistan. In its 137 kilometre journey, the flame will cross over 20 nations and will be carried by over 4 thousand bearers.  China fears demonstrations during its passage and has charged the Olympic Committee’s security department with closely following the torch’s passage to avoid any form of anti-China protest.

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