Olympics: French athletes won’t heed boycott call, official says
BEIJING, April 8, 2008 - France's top Olympic official said here Monday that French athletes would take part in the Beijing Games even if President Nicolas Sarkozy went ahead with a possible opening ceremony boycott. Sarkozy is considering staying away from the launch of the Beijing Olympicsto protest China's crackdown on unrest in Tibet, according to French officials. Henri Serrandour, chief of France's National Olympic Committee, said Francewould compete at the August 8-24 Games regardless of what Sarkozy does. "Even if the president of France asked athletes to boycott the Games, wewould still go, even if only 10 (French) athletes eventually went there,"Serandour said at a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committeeshere. The body, which groups 205 National Olympic Committees from around theworld, is holding its three-day general assembly in Beijing less than fourmonths before the city stages the Summer Games. Last week French human rights minister Rama Yade was quoted in an interviewas saying Sarkozy would stay away from the opening ceremony unless China metseveral conditions concerning Tibet and human rights. She later said she had been misquoted by Le Monde newspaper on use of theword "condition." French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Monday reiterated that noconditions had been set for Sarkozy's attendance but repeated that all optionswere still on the table related to the Games. Beijing has faced international criticism over its crackdown onanti-Chinese protests in Tibet, which exiled Tibetan leaders say killed up to150 people. China says Tibetan rioters have killed 18 civilians and twopolicemen.