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UN chief not to attend opening ceremony

world Updated: Apr 11, 2008 00:02 IST

PTI
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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will not attend the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics but his absence was not linked to the Tibetan protests.

Ban's spokesperson Marie Okabe said on Thursday that the UN chief will not be able to make it to Beijing in August due to "scheduling problems".

Ban was invited by China but the Secretary-General "conveyed to the Chinese government some months ago that he may not be in a position to attend this important event as a result of scheduling issues", Okabe said.

Several human rights and activist groups have urged the world leaders not to participate in the ceremony to protest against "repression" in Tibet and failure of the Chinese government to pressure its close ally Sudan to end "genocide" in Darfur.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already announced he will not attend the ceremony while US President George W Bush is under intense pressure to boycott the Games.