European Greens call for EU boycott of Olympic's opening ceremony

(dpa) - Europe's Green lawmakers were set Wednesday to call for a boycott of the Olympic Games' opening ceremony by European government leaders, athletes and journalists.

"We must be prepared to openly consider a boycott of the Olympic Games because the conditions of freedom and democracy required to organise such events go beyond the current case of China and its human rights situation," Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Monica Frassoni, co- presidents of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, said in a statement released ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue in Brussels.

Calling the Beijing event "much more than a sporting event", the two leaders said the Olympics should also be viewed as "an opportunity to debate and contribute towards a visible improvement in democracy and human rights in China, as well as the situation of the Tibetan people and other ethnic and religious minorities."

"The next step is to launch a debate on a boycott of the opening ceremony by heads of state, athletes and journalists," they said.

Green lawmakers also invited their colleagues to consider whether to show their support for the Tibetan people and other minorities in China by wearing a green ribbon, as proposed by the French athletes' spokesperson, or with "orange scarves to be worn by athletes, spectators and the press".

So far, of the EU's leaders only French President Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested a possible boycott, either of the August 8 opening ceremony or of the entire games.

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