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  Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov urged countries on Wednesday
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov urged countries on Wednesday not to boycott the Beijing Olympic games, and insisted that sport should not be mixed with politics.

Rights activists have called for athletes to boycott the games over China's human rights record, in particular the crackdown on the Tibetan independence movement. Hundreds of protesters have gathered on the streets of San Francisco for the current leg of the Olympic torch relay, which has already been marred in London and Paris by demonstrations.

"We must not mix sport with politics, and all boycotts contradict the essence and the central idea of the Olympic Games. The calls for a boycott are incompatible with Olympic ideals," Zhukov said at the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Beijing.

Zhukov said that in Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, wars would usually be suspended for the period of the Games.

He stressed the negative political consequences of Western countries' boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Soviet Union's subsequent boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles games.

The European Parliament is likely to call for a boycott by European leaders of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, demanding that China engage in talks with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who Beijing accuses of inciting violence during the Lhasa protests, an allegation he denies.

However, no Western leaders have seriously suggested withholding athletes from the games.

Since a Chinese crackdown on mass protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa in mid-March, international attention has been focused on human rights in China. Protests have also highlighted China's support of the Sudanese government, accused of orchestrating massacres in Darfur.

Commenting on the six-continent torch relay, Zhukov said it is an Olympic tradition that should not be changed.

"This is a tradition and Olympics are based on traditions, which bring people closer together. I do not see why it should be changed."

On Monday the Olympic torch relay was cut short in Paris and about 28 people were arrested amid demonstrations, a day after 37 protesters were detained in London on the previous leg of the relay.


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