UN sport advisor accuses media of manipulation over olympics

June 10th, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, June 10 (DPA) The United Nation’s new special advisor on sport said Tuesday he believed 99 percent of sportsmen and women were happy to be taking part in the Beijing Olympics but accused the media of trying to manipulate the athletes. “Some media want to push sportsmen in a political way,” said Willi Lemke in his first briefing with journalists in Geneva.

“We have a lot of political ways to solve problems but the sportsmen himself from which ever country he comes, he cannot solve the problems of the United Nations or of the world.”

China’s crushing of unrest in Tibet in March drew sharp criticism around the world. Athletes are considering ways to show their dissent while politicians were mulling staying away from the opening ceremony Aug 8.

But Lemke, the former football manager of his home town team Werder Bremen in Germany also confirmed he would be very happy to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

He said he knew many gold medal winners and saw that athletes who had worked for years to get where they were. Every athlete was free to express himself on his sport and personally but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had clear rules on behaviour.

“Of course if somebody wants to discuss things he can find ways where he can do that but not during the Olympic competition,” he added.

Lemke was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in March, with the Olympics and the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa as two of his most pressing concerns.

He met with Chinese ambassadors four times so far and was confident the Olympics - “the biggest sporting event ever held” - would be a success. His role was “to bring people together in dialogue”.

“I will go to the opening ceremony. We are welcome there and I will take the opportunity to meet friends from all over the world and also from China. I am very happy to be going to the Beijing Olympics,” he said.

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