Czech PM not to attend Olympics opening ceremony

April 16th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

Prague, April 16 (DPA) Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said he will not attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing, press reports said Wednesday. “I will not go to Beijing. I am certainly not for an Olympics boycott by the athletes but I think that it can do without me,” Pravo daily cited Topolanek as saying Tuesday at a debate with university students in Czech city of Brno.

He said that he would prefer the ceremony not to celebrate Communist China and pointed out that the Nazis had abused the games for propaganda in 1936.

President Vaclav Klaus was originally planned to represent the Czech Republic at the ceremony “but he adroitly got out of it by going to have a surgery,” Topolanek said.

Ministers for the junior ruling Greens - Vice-Premier Martin Bursik, Education Minister Ondrej Liska and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg - spoke against attending the games over human rights abuses in China.

Liska, who oversees sports portfolio, said that he turned down an official invitation by the Czech Olympic Committee.

In what was seen as an attempt to spread responsibility for the decision, Topolanek said earlier that the cabinet will resolve the issue of his attendance.

Before students he jokingly conceded that one should cherche la femme, or seek the woman, behind his decision.

“Moreover, Lucie Talmanova is a member of the Friends of Tibet Society and I could not have done it to her,” Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper cited him as saying in reference to vice-chairperson of parliament and his girlfriend.

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