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I will go to the Olympics: Bush
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US President George W. Bush has said he will not use the Olympics as an opportunity to criticize China, nor will he change his plan to attend the Games in Beijing this summer.

In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Bush said: "I'm going to the Olympics. I view the Olympics as a sporting event."

On Wednesday, movie director Steven Spielberg resigned as artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics, citing concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, which he linked to China.

Bush said in the interview that what Spielberg did was "up to him".

"I'm not gonna go and use the Olympics as an opportunity to express my opinions to the Chinese people in a public way," Bush said, adding that he has "a little different platform" to Spielberg to communicate with Chinese leaders.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Thursday that it is unacceptable to boycott the Olympics for political purposes and empty rhetoric will not help relieve the Darfur crisis.

Despite recent clamors linking Darfur to the Beijing Olympics, some Western leaders have explicitly expressed opposition to politicizing the Games.

London-based newspaper The Independent published a correction on Friday clarifying that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge did not sign a letter by Nobel laureates encouraging a boycott of the games. He was in fact the intended recipient.

British Olympic Minister Tessa Jowell also said the call for a boycott "would be counter-productive", according to The Times newspaper.

"The world has known for the last seven years that Beijing would host the Olympics," Jowell said. "A call for a boycott doesn't serve any purpose and it would be a great pity."

The paper also quoted Sir Craig Reedie, Britain's IOC member, as saying: "Darfur is a civil war but the IOC is a sports organization and its contract is with the host city. It does not become involved in politics of the host nation. Politics will not affect the organization of the Games."

Using the Olympics to pressure China is obviously not the mainstream opinion of the world, Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at the Renmin University of China, said.

"Bush's words show he does not want Sino-US ties to be disturbed by such issues.

"Obviously, the Bush administration understands China's contribution to resolving the Darfur problem," Shi said.

(China Daily February 16, 2008)

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