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German MPs urge TV blackout of Olympic ceremonies

AFP · 17 Apr 2008, 11:30

Published: 17 Apr 2008 11:30 GMT+02:00

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"The public broadcasters should send a signal and refuse to give coverage to this propaganda event," said Kai Wegener, an MP for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

Green party politician Volker Beck said: "If the human rights situation in Tibet does not improve, the public channels should think about abstaining from screening the festivities."

A spokesman for ZDF television said at the moment it was not mulling a blackout of the opening ceremony in Beijing in August.

"But we are free to report as we see fit and reserve the right to adjust our plans -- as we did with the 2007 Tour de France," he said.

ARD and ZDF last year stopped live coverage of the cycling tour after a rider failed a doping test.

German reigning Olympic judo champion Yvonne Bonisch told ZDF Tuesday she would boycott the opening ceremony. Bonisch said she would wear a bracelet introduced by top-level German athletes to protest the human rights situation in China and Tibet.

"I want to send a strong signal. I don't want to participate in the opening ceremony," said Bonisch, who won the -57kg title in Athens four years ago.

But Bonisch added that a full boycott of the Games "would destroy the dreams of thousands of athletes."

Story continues below…

Merkel will not be at the opening ceremony of the Games but has said she is merely respecting German tradition because the head of government never attends.

The chancellor, who angered Beijing last year by receiving the Dalai Lama, has stressed her belief that there should be no boycott of the Olympics.

"We have not had good experiences with that, whether in Moscow or in Atlanta," she said at the weekend.

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