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Here we go folks, the boycott tirades have begun in earnest over here.|
Olympics great Fraser's Beijing bombshell
April 9, 2008 - 4:39PM
When you hear the Tibetans tell their terrible stories about what the Chinese Government has done to them, and what their forces have done to them, it is just awful
Photo: Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Australian Olympic legend Dawn Fraser will make her own protest over China's treatment of Tibet, refusing to attend the Beijing Games in August.
It will be only the second Olympic Games the four-times gold medallist has not attended since making her Olympic debut in Melbourne, in 1956.
"As a spectator, I am making my own statement by not going," Fraser told AAP.
"I support the Tibetans [but] I don't support the violence that the protesters are creating.
"It's a shame it's taken place during the torch relay but I don't think it will dampen the Olympic spirit at all," she said.
China should also never have been awarded the right to host the Games on account of their human rights record, she said.
"Mainly because of the human rights and what they've done to Tibet.
"When you hear the Tibetans tell their terrible stories about what the Chinese Government has done to them, and what their forces have done to them, it is just awful."
The future of the international Olympic torch relay is now in doubt after pro-Tibetan demonstrators shadowed the Olympic torch relay as it progressed through Europe, violently clashing with police and officials on the streets of London and Paris this week.
Local interest in the Games will remain strong even if the International Olympic Committee cuts the torch relay short, Fraser said.
"Here in Australia we are sport mad and we will watch the Olympics [on television] whatever happens in China," she said.
Athletics legend and Olympic torch relay-runner Ron Clarke has weighed into the debate, saying the International Olympic Committee should not give in to protesters by cancelling the relay.
"That just encourages (them), every time they have a torch relay or have an Olympic event the best thing to do is to attack it and get more publicity,'' Clarke told AAP.
"I think (the torch relay) adds to the prestige of the Games, I see no reason why it should be cancelled.''
Clarke, who lit the Olympic cauldron in Melbourne 52 years ago, will run in the Australian leg of the relay on April 24.
He said he had no concerns for his personal safety during the event.
"The AOC (Australian Olympic Committee), I've got complete confidence that they can make certain that there won't be any personal attacks on any of the torch-bearers,'' he said.
Fellow former Olympic swimmer Susie O'Neill has also spoken out over the torch controversy, saying the relay had been hijacked by protesters and should be scrapped.
"Everyday, everybody is talking about the Olympics but you've got bad publicity. So I'd probably just scrap it if it was me," O'Neill told ABC radio today.
"In retrospect I suppose it was pretty obvious that it was going to happen, [but] I just get a little bit angry when people use the Olympics as their protesting forum. It's so removed from politics."
The torch relay will continue in San Francisco tomorrow.