IOC president "concerned" over Tibet, torch relay violence

(dpa) - International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge on Monday said he was concerned about unrest in China's Tibetan areas and violence by supporters of Tibetan independence during the torch relay for the 2008 Olympics.

"I'm very concerned with the international situation and what's happening in Tibet," Rogge said at the opening of a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Beijing.

"The torch relay has been targeted. The International Olympic Committee has expressed its serious concern and calls for a rapid, peaceful resolution in Tibet," Rogge said.

Rogge said violent protests were "not compatible with the values of the torch relay or the Olympic games".

He called for unity in the Olympic movement and said there was "no momentum for a generalized boycott" of the Beijing games.

"We need the unity of the Olympic movement to help us overcome the difficulties. Our major responsibility is for offering good games to the athletes who deserve them," Rogge said.

Chinese state media on Monday criticized Tibetan independence protesters for attempting to "sabotage" the London leg of the torch relay.

The protesters' disruption of the London relay on Sunday was an "obvious act of defying the Olympic spirit", the official Xinhua news agency quoted a spokesman from the Beijing Olympic organizers, BOCOG, as saying.

One man tried to snatch the Olympic torch and another tried to put out the flame as protests against China marred the relay on Sunday.

More than 30 people were arrested as police scuffled with activists protesting against China's crackdown in Tibet and other human rights issues.

Demonstrators are also protesting against China's heavy handling of dozens of pro-independence rallies and unrest in Tibetan areas since March 10, when protests began to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

The protests escalated into rioting on March 14 in Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, and have continued in many areas since then.

The Chinese government has said 19 people were killed in the violence in Lhasa but the Tibetan government-in-exile said about 140 people have been killed, most of them Tibetans shot by Chinese police.

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