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No plans to cancel torch relay: IOC
April 09, 2008 12:57 IST
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no plans to cut short the global torch relay despite disruptions by protesters in London and Paris, Olympic chief Jacques Rogge told the Wall Street Journal.
Reports the IOC executive board would consider scrapping the torch relay outside China at a meeting in Beijing later this week are "based on a misunderstanding", the IOC president told the paper.
"There is no discussion of cancelling any legs," he added. "What we will do is study the torch relay so far. We will do this in the executive board meeting on Friday. This will be a routine study of what has happened."
The Olympic flame will pass through San Francisco later on Wednesday.
Activists angry about China's policies in Tibet and crackdown in the Himalayan region after deadly rioting last month have promised more demonstrations similar to those in the London and Paris legs on Sunday and Monday.
"I'm sad," Rogge said of the disruptions.
"I am saddened that such a beautiful symbol of the torch, which unites people of different religions, different ethnic origin, different political systems, cultures and languages, has been attacked."
"I am also sad for the athletes and people who have been selected to carry the torch should have this fantastic moment of their lives ruined."
Rogge said politics had invited itself into sport, and while the IOC fully respected the right of people to protest, the protests should be non-violent.
China has blamed the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, for the rioting in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and surrounding areas last month. He has repeatedly denied China's claims.
Beijing's subsequent security drive in Tibet and nearby areas has galvanised international groups that have denounced the crackdown and called for the mountain region's autonomy or independence.
Rogge told the paper the IOC had expressed its opinion on the Tibet unrest to the Chinese government and Beijing Games organisers.
"We stated very clearly that violence is not compatible with the Olympic ideal," he said.
"[But] we have no army, we have no police force. The only strength we have is values. We can only fight with values."
Rogge told reporters on Wednesday he would make no further comments on the torch relay until a news conference at the conclusion of the executive board meeting on Friday.