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Don't Politicize Olympics, Official Says
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Politicizing next summer's Beijing Olympics not only goes against the Games' spirit but also hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, Wang Guoqing, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, said Wednesday.

Wang criticized recent remarks and moves by some Western politicians as "poisoning and demonizing" the image of China, as they had been trying to associate the Games with politics and put pressure on the Chinese government over various issues.

"The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is not only for Beijingers or the Chinese people, but for all Asian people, for all the world's people," Wang said at a China-South Korea Development and Cooperation Forum, which had Olympic cooperation between the two countries as one of its central topics.

On May 8, a group of 108 US Congress members sent a letter to President Hu Jintao threatening that if China did not change its policies on Darfur in Sudan, they would boycott the Beijing Games, which open next August.

In April, some candidates in the French presidential elections raised similar threats.

In March, Hidenao Nakagawa, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, said in an interview that if war breaks out across the Taiwan Straits, Japan should also boycott the Games.

However, such comments have failed to win mainstream support.

The newly elected French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, expressed through a spokesperson the willingness of France to take part in the Beijing Games.

Premier Wen Jiabao has also invited the Japanese Emperor Akihito to attend the Games' opening ceremony and the two governments have begun discussing the feasibility of the visit.

Granting the Summer Olympics to China was seen by many as a clear move by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to promote the spirit of the Games in a country that is home to one-fifth of the world's population.

According to a survey conducted on behalf of Samsung Electronics, the people of China are more interested in the Games than any other nationality in the world. Seventy percent of those polled said they would watch the Games, compared to 49 percent in Germany, 41 percent in France, 32 percent in the US and 28 percent in the UK, which will host the 2012 Games.

(China Daily May 31, 2007)

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