The round-the-world journey of the Olympic torch which leads up to the games should be scrapped, says prince Willem-Alexander in an interview in Wednesday’s Telegraaf.
The prince, who described himself as a ‘critical’ member of the International Olympic Committee, said the torch relay has become a target for protests, is not part of the original Olympic tradition and is extremely costly.
He said the torch should only be carried round Greece, the home of the Olympics, and the country hosting the event. This was, he said, the original practice.
Demonstrations against China’s treatment of Tibet during this year’s relay has meant that the torch, which is supposed to be ‘a symbol of hope’, has become ‘a target for protest’, prince Willem-Alexander told the Telegraaf.
The huge media interest in the relay makes it an ideal target for protests, he said. He added that the reinstatement of the old tradition would protect the Olympic symbol from destruction.
Commenting on the human rights situation in China, the prince said that sport and politics should not be mixed. ‘Sport should always stand above politics. That’s not to say that I see the world in black and white.
‘The Olympic spirit is about promoting brotherhood and to do that, athletes from around the world should be able to travel to the games without any problems.
‘I remember that during the opening ceremony of the Sydney Games both Koreas [South and North] walked into the stadium for the first time… Billions of tv viewers witnessed this historic moment. And I’m happy that, at the last moment, Iraq is taking part in Peking.’
Prince Willem-Alexander will put his arguments against the Olympic torch relay to the IOC in Beijing later this week.
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