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IOC's Rogge says Games boycott would hurt only athletes

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- IOC president Jacques Rogge opposes
a boycott of the Beijing Olympics over China's crackdown in Tibet,
contending such action would only hurt "innocent athletes."

Demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet on Friday -- the
most violent riots there in nearly two decades -- left at least 30
protesters dead, according to a Tibetan exile group. China ordered
tourists out of Tibet's capital and troops patrolled the streets
Saturday.

"We believe that the boycott doesn't solve anything," Rogge
said. "On the contrary, it is penalizing innocent athletes and it
is stopping the organization from something that definitely is
worthwhile organizing."

On a six-day tour of the Caribbean, Rogge expressed condolences
for the victims and said he hoped calm will be restored
immediately. He declined to say whether the committee would change
its stance if violence continues or more people are killed.

"The International Olympic Committee has consistently resisted
calls for a boycott of the Olympic Games," Rogge said. He declined
to comment further on Tibet during a brief news conference.

IOC vice president Thomas Bach said the committee will speak
with China about human rights issues and condemned the crackdown, saying
"every use of violence is a step backwards."

But "a boycott would be the wrong way because that will cut
lines of communication," he added.

The committee issued a statement calling for an end to the
violence.

"The IOC shares the world's desire for a peaceful resolution to
the tensions of past days in the Tibetan region of China," it
said. "We hope that calm can return to the region as quickly as
possible."