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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Let the 2008 Tibetan Olympics begin

May 19, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
May 16, 2008

Tibetan Olympics 2008 participants pose for group photo session
following the event's press conference in Dharamsala, Friday, May 16, 2008
Dharamsala, May 16: Fifteen Tibetan men and nine Tibetan women have
garnered their determination and courage to take part in the 2008
Tibetan Olympics, which kicked off from today. But only 12 men and 7
women were present at today's press conference, all of them wearing
red or white tracksuits of the Tibetan Olympics.

"Two years of planning and one year of work for the Tibetan Olympics
are coming into fruition. We are proud to present fifteen men and
nine women," the Tibetan Olympics director Mr Lobsang Wangyal, the
man behind the Miss Tibet beauty pageant, said at the press
conference here today.

Although the Tibetan Olympics will go on for little less than two
weeks, the actual competition rounds will last for four days. It will
take place from May 22 at different locations in Dharamsala and the
grand finale, including the opening and closing ceremony, will be
held on 25 May at the UTCV School grounds.

Starting today, the participants will go through a series of
week-long training and warm up sessions, which include yoga in the
mornings and other related field activities.

Each participant will participate in all the sports in the customized
decathlon, including long-distance running, swimming, shooting,
archery as well as other track and field events.

Presenting the athletes before a strong media presence, Mr Lobsang
said he felt proud because of the "young men and Women", all age
between 16 and 27, for coming forward to take part in the sporting event.

Nevertheless, he said he was "not satisfied at all" with the number
of applications he received, saying it was far below his expected
outcome, more so in the case of women.

"We did not get as many applications from young Tibetan women as we
wished and expected. When we tried to encourage them to take part,
many of them said they were feeling shy to participate," Mr Lobsang explains.

While the participants come from different parts of India, many of
them are newly arrived refugees who have come from Tibet in the past few years.

16-year old Tenzin Damdul from UTCV School says lack of applicants
for the Tibetan Olympics compelled him to take part in the
self-styled sporting event towards the last moment. "And also I have
great passion for games and sports," Damdul quickly asserts.

To him the games are a "great opportunity to send message to the
world that Tibetans should have the right to take part in the Olympic Games."

"My opponents look challenging. But that does not matter. I
participate for Tibet and not to win," he says.

"There is little hope of winning, but I have not given up my
determination," Damdul modestly speaks out.

20-year old Dhartso Kyi, who arrived in India from Tibet in 2000,
says she actively takes part in "all categories of games and sports"
in school. She hopes to do well in the Tibetans Olympics but, is
little worried about the swimming round, which will take place on May
24. She believes taking part in the games will boost her Tibetan pride.

Another participant Tsering Tashi, 25, however, believes Tibetan
Olympics, in its own way, can help highlight the plight of Tibetan
people inside Tibet. Tsering came to India few years ago from Ngaba
area in Amdo Province of Tibet. Amdo Ngaba was one of the worst hit
areas during recent unrest in Tibet.

He says Tibetans were "killed like animals by the Chinese government
during the unrest."

He now feels "China does not deserve to host the Olympic Games." For
him, Olympics should take place in countries "with respectful human
rights record."

Mr Wangyal described his Tibetan Olympics as "an initiative to let
Tibetans join in the celebration of the spirit of the biggest
international sports event" and denied having any intention "to
counter the Beijing Olympics" that will be held later in August this year.

He, however, said Tibetan people are opposed to what he called "the
wrong policies of the Chinese Government" in Tibet and "not the
Chinese people." "Their polices are dividing and suppressing people,
and destroying the environment, throughout China," he said. He
believes "What has happened in Tibet in the recent past must be
understood and addressed in a mutually beneficial way so that there
can be peace, stability and progress in China."

The winner in each of the men's and women's categories will get a
cash prize of Rs.100, 000 (approximately $2,500) while the first and
second runners-up will win Rs. 50,000 and Rs.25, 000 each respectively.

Dharamsala in the northern India is the seat of the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile set up following failed Tibetan resistance
against dominating Chinese rule in Tibet.

For more information
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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