Olympians regret fighting in Georgia at start of Games

Society Materials 9 August 2008 09:15 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Olympic organizers on Saturday expressed regret over the outbreak of hostilities between Georgia and Russia, saying conflicts were not compatible with Olympic values and the Olympic Truce.

"We are all sorry for what has happened. We believe all issues can be resolved by dialogue," Wang Wei, the spokesman of the Olympic organizing committee BOCOG, told a news conference.

International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said: "Conflict is not what we want to see. It is contrary to what the Olympic ideals stand for."

The fighting in Southern Ossetia, a breakaway enclave of Georgia, erupted at the same time as the Beijing Olympics opened in the presence of Georgian and Russian athletes, and with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin among the spectators in Beijing's National Stadium.

It came despite a call from the United Nations to respect the Olympics Truce and for warring parties to cease all hostilities worldwide during the Games. It was the first time that a conflict began on the opening day of an Olympics.

"The Olympic Truce is the heart of what our values stand for," said Davies, but added that it had to be implemented by the UN.

"It is a sad reality that a number of countries are in conflict."

Davies said it was not appropriate for the IOC to comment on the fact that the 2014 Winter Games' host city of Sochi was close to South Ossetia.

"It is wrong to make any assessment here in perspective to the Games," she said.

Davies also said that the conflict, and politics in general, was not discussed when IOC president Jacques Rogge met with Putin on Friday.