UN Sports Advisor to Visit China

BERLIN, 19 Mar 2008: German politician Willi Lemke, the United Nations’ (UN) new Special Representative for Sports and Development, will visit China “as soon as possible”, it was announced on Wednesday.

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants me to inform him how the Olympic Games can be used as a platform for peace,” Lemke said in a press conference.

“I want to see the situation for myself,” added the 61-year-old. Lemke, whose new UN position was announced on Tuesday, said the human rights issue and recent unrest in Tibet is the “main problem” which will occupy him during the forthcoming months.

But the German insists he is not in favour of a boycott of this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing which take place from August 8-24.

And although a travel date is yet to be finalised, Lemke says he is not ruling out a trip to troubled Tibet as part of his mission.

“If I express the wish, under the terms of the mission entrusted to me by the Secretary-General, of going in Tibet – I can’t imagine it would be refused,” Mr Lemke added.

“That would be an affront.” Lemke said he was asked to travel to China in a video conference and discussions will take place about the unrest in Tibet.

“I know I will go Beijing without heavy armament, I have only the power of words,” said Lemke.

Last Friday, violence escalated in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa after protesters clashed with Chinese authorities.

According to official sources, 13 people have died since the demonstrations began, but eye-witnesses claim there are hundreds of victims.