(TibetanReview.net, Oct19’21) – China’s official media may have portrayed the Olympic torch ceremony in the Greek capital Athens as if it was a smooth affair. But the international media on the event were dominated by Tibet and Hong Kong activists’ Games-boycott call protests on Oct 17 and 18.
Three activists were arrested on Oct 18 as they tried to disrupt the torch-lighting ceremony for the Games at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia. Their protest was directed at against the four-yearly global winter Olympic games being scheduled to be held in Beijing in coming February.
Tibetan-Canadian Chemi Lhamo, Brit Jason Leith of London-Based campaign organisation Free Tibet, and American Fern MacDougal were arrested after they crossed barriers and entered the area where the now traditional Olympic flame-lighting ceremony was taking place.
They breached heavy security to gain access to a spot near the entrance to the stadium, close to where the ceremony was taking place, and unveiled a banner saying “No genocide games”, pulled out a Tibetan national flag and shouted to call for a boycott of the Games, said London-based Tibet campaign group Oct 18. Those attending the ceremony included International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and several dozen dignitaries including Chinese officials, reported the AFP Oct 19.
The three are set to spend another night in detention after their hearing was delayed until Oct 20, said London-based campaign group Free Tibet Oct 19.
Moments earlier, four Tibetan activists sitting in a car on a public road near the entrance to the ceremony were arrested by Greek police in unmarked cars, the group said Oct 18. However, they were released later on without being charged.
The above arrests came a day after two Games boycott activists were arrested as they attempted to hang a banner from the Acropolis. A third person who had accompanied them was also arrested, reported the ekathimerini.com Oct 18. The duo of Tibetan-American student Tsela Zoksang, aged 18, and exiled Hong Kong activist Joey Siu, 22, and the third person were released after being brought before a prosecutor, who ordered a trial on Jan 26, 2022, the report said.
The protesters were calling for a full global boycott of the Beijing Olympics in response to human rights atrocities committed by China in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
In his speech during the ceremony in Olympia, Bach has said, “The Olympic Games cannot address all the challenges in our world. But the Olympic Games set an example for a world where everyone respects the same rules and one another. They inspire us to solve problems in friendship and solidarity. They build bridges leading to better understanding and friendship among people. This is the timeless message that this Olympic flame will send from our spiritual home here in Ancient Olympia, to Beijing, and to the world.”
And last week, in response to criticism that the IOC should hold China to account on its human rights record, vice president John Coates had said the committee did not have the power to tell other countries how they should act. “The IOC’s remit is to ensure that there are no human rights abuses in respect of the conduct of the Games within the National Olympic Committees or within the Olympic movement,” he was quoted as saying.