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Rogge: IOC 'sporting, not political association'
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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge Friday shrugged off the controversy caused by Steven Spielberg's decision to withdraw as artistic consultant to the Beijing Olympics, stressing that IOC is "a sporting, not a political association."


Rogge told broadcaster France 24 that it was not for the organization (IOC) to play a political role, adding he did not fear a boycott of the summer Games.


"I do not fear a boycott because most statesmen well know that boycotts only punish those doing the boycotting," Rogge told the channel.


Rogge warned that athletes who used the event as a political stage would be punished.


He insisted that the "one should not call on the IOC to solve the world's problems'.


Spielberg Wednesday announced his decision to quit the upcoming Olympics as an artistic advisor, citing concerns over the violence in Darfur, which he linked to the Chinese government.


"His absence will not harm the quality of the Games. The Beijing Games are much stronger than individuals," Rogge said.


China said Thursday that linking the Darfur issue to the Olympic Games will not help and is against the Olympic Spirit that separates sports from politics.


"We noticed recent discussions and acts on China's stance on Darfur issue. According to my knowledge, some are out of the concerns over the situation there, but others tried to link the issue with China's policy on Sudan and Beijing Olympic Games, "Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular press conference.


"It is understandable if they do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur," said Liu. "But if they are politically motivated, we will not accept."


(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2008)

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