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Athletes want politics out of Olympics

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, runner-up of last year's world championship of men's 200m, said in a Puma promotion that what athletes want is that the focus should be on competition instead of politics.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, London
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2008 04:53 PM IST

Athletes preparing for the Beijing Olympics want the competition starting in August to be free of politics.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, runner-up of last year's world championship of men's 200m, said in a Puma promotion that what athletes want is that the focus should be on competition instead of politics.

"I didn't know a lot about that," he said of the decision of quitting Beijing Olympics by Hollywood movie director Steven Spielberg and some other Westerners.

"But I think (for athletes) this is mainly about working hard and getting to the Olympics. And we really look forward to it.

"Everything is really focusing on that. We really want to go out and compete."

The 21-year-old lost in last year's world championships to Tyson Gay of the US, who won a gold medal with world record-breaking performance. He is expecting a gold medal in Beijing.

Bolt's comment echoed what Belgian Justine Henin insisted on - no politics at the games.

"Politics and sport must remain separate," the world no.1 tennis player said last week.

"Athletes must be focused on our job which is sport, which is our passion. We all hope to bring joy to the people watching the games.

"Winning in Athens gave me so much pleasure. The Olympics is very high for me in 2008," she added.

Norway's Kristine Engeset, 19, is also eager to participate in Beijing Games.

The European junior runner-up in women's 3,000m steeplechase, also sponsored by Puma, has yet to get through domestic qualifying but is confident she can make it to Beijing.

"My qualifying will be in June and July, and I've been doing it for years, to run every good race. I think I will make it," she said.

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