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Decision not under any pressure, says Bhutia

A day after startling the sports community with his move, Baichung Bhutia says his decision to pull out of Beijing Olympics torch relay is not under any pressure.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON APR 01, 2008 11:20 PM IST

A day after startling the sports community with his bold move to pull out of the Beijing Olympics torch relay, football star Bhaichung Bhutia on tuesday said his decision was not prompted by any 'pressure' or 'influence'.

"It was a completely personal decision based on my feelings, and free from any pressure or influence," said the skipper of the Indian team, who has refused to take part in the April 17 torch relay in Delhi to show solidarity with the Tibetans fighting against Chinese rule.

"Nobody should read too much into it. It is a very small issue. I don't want it to be blown out of proportion," said Bhutia, whose ancestors were Tibetans.

Bhutia, a Buddhist, said the Dalai Lama was like God to him. Earlier in the day, Bhutia defended his decision, but said he abhorred violance.

"I sympathise with the Tibetan cause. I'm against violence but I thought I should stand by the Tibetan people in their fight," Bhutia said, giving a shot in the arm for the growing Tibetan protest to the Beijing Olympic Games.

The mercurial forward from Sikkim said he has already conveyed his decision to the Indian Olympic Association to skip the April 17 relay when the torch arrives in Delhi.

"I have given a letter to the IOA refusing to be part of the torch relay. I don't want to say anything else," he said.

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