HAVANA (15 April 2008) – José Ramón Fernández, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, has confirmed that the United States is leading the campaign against China and attempting to hinder the organization of the forthcoming Olympic Games.
In his opening speech at the start of the Fourth Cuban Olympiad, Fernández stated that “for the last few months, a fierce campaign has been underway to stage a boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing and affect them in diverse ways. The instigator of this, the United States, is the very same country that is attempting to hurt the most sacred desires of the athletes, the main protagonists of this summer event.”
Fernández confirmed Cuba’s support for the host nation and recalled that at the National Olympic Committees Assembly that took place in early April in Beijing under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee, “the 205 Olympic Committees from around the world unanimously agreed to support the summer games, rejecting any interference in terms of China’s right to stage brilliant and meticulously prepared Games.”
“During the discussion and analysis of this issue, dozens of presidents of National Olympic Committees firmly defended the tournament against the attacks that are damaging these wholesome sporting ideals, as well as the right of the Chinese people to enjoy, without any pressure whatsoever, the Games,” he added.
Fernández, who is also vice president of the Council of Ministers, affirmed the support of the Cuban government, whose principle position is to support China’s right to celebrate, without interference of any kind, the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008”. Some countries “from Europe” that “have been speculating over a boycott of events during the Games they are the ones who are maintaining a conspiratorial silence in the face of attacks that make victims of people throughout the world. Or they invent alleged terrorist threats in order to conceal the true threats that humanity faces,” added Fernández.
He also recalled that for Cuba, “the rules established in the Olympic charter are alien to political activity” and they should govern the event.
CUBAN ATHLETES SUPPORT THE GAMES
In Cuba, Fernández was joined by several Olympic champions such as Alberto Juantorena, a gold medal winner in Montreal ‘76 (400 and 800m) who condemned “any action” that attempts to tarnish and hinder next August’s Games.
The vice president of INDER added that “the commitment of the Cubans is that Beijing will be an honourable host city.”
Javier Sotomayor, Olympic champion in 1992 and world record holder in the men’s high jump, commented that “there is nothing right about tarnishing an event that represents confraternity, peace and harmony between peoples.”
Sotomayor, current member of the Cuban commission for the discipline, stated that “every day, I enjoy my world record and I have wonderful memories of my two world victories. But standing at the top of an Olympic podium is the greatest thing that can happen to an athlete during their sporting career.”
Iván Pedroso, Olympic gold medal winner in the men’s long jump at the 2000 Games replied that “it’s always the same; they are trying to mix sports with politics and invent something in order to damage the event that is a dream for every athlete.”
Translated by Granma International