The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday said he was “very concerned” about unrest in Tibet, but downplayed talk of a boycott of the Beijing Games. “I’m very concerned with the international situation and what’s happening in Tibet,” Jacques Rogge said. “The torch relay has been targeted. IOC has expressed its serious concern and calls for a rapid peaceful resolution in Tibet,” Rogge said in a brief speech at the meetings’ opening ceremony.
China is facing rising criticism ahead of the August Olympics on issues from its crackdown on anti-government protests among Tibetans to its close relations with Sudan.
Demonstrators challenging China’s policies in those areas tried to grab the Olympic torch and snuff out the flame as it passed through London on Sunday.
Rogge’s comments were his strongest yet on the growing political storm surrounding the Games, underscoring rising concern over the potential that such protests would tarnish the Olympic movement.
“Violence for whatever reason is not compatible with the values of the torch relay or the Olympic Games,” Rogge said. Rogge acknowledged that “some politicians have played with the idea of boycotts,” but added: “As I speak today, however, there is no momentum for a generalized boycott.”