- Title: FRANCE: OLYMPIC GAMES - French athletes to make human rights stand in Beijing
- Date: 5th April 2008
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (APRIL 4, 2008) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF THE FRENCH NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
- Embargoed: 20th April 2008 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAAC3CRCNSZ9GMI70QBZR1JJ5HN
- Story Text: French athletes will wear a badge bearing the Olympic rings and the motto "For A Better World" to show their concern for human rights during the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay on Monday (April 7).
"We will place the Olympic ideas, the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games, back in front. This is the value of the Olympics and of human rights." said French pole vaulter Romain Mesnil at the news conference in Paris on Friday (April 4).
The French athletes said they are also planning to wear a distinctive sign during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in August but need approval from the International Olympic committee.
French hurdler StÃ©phane Diagana stressed that this is the opportunity for athletes to give their own message.
"The position of the athletes is that today, we think the boycott of the opening ceremony by the athletes is not a solution. They'd like to participate. If political figures want to protest or take a political position it's their role and not that of athletes, and thus the athletes wish to affirm that they have the intention to participate in the games, even if it's in a context we don't feel at ease with from what we've seen lately," he said.
The Sports Secretary of State and former French national rugby team coach Bernard Laporte gave his support to the action saying "everyone wants human rights in China".
Also present at the news conference were Olympic gold medallist Marie-JosÃ© Perec, Judo champion David Douillet, canoeing world champion Tony Estanguet, and fencing champion Laura Flessel.
China's crackdown on protests in Tibet has fuelled a debate among athletes on whether they should use the Games to make a statement for the respect of human rights.
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