IOA not to ask Bhutia to reconsider his decision

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (UNI) The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) today said it respects Bhaichung Bhutia's ''personal decision'' not to take part in the Olympic Torch relay and stated that it would not ask Bhutia to reconsider his stand.

IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh told UNI here that the Association has received Bhutia's letter in which he has explained the reasons to not to be the part of the relay.

''As far as we are concerned, we have a very simple theory.

Sports and politics should not be mixed. It is Bhutia's personal decision and we respect that,'' said Randhir Singh Meanwhile, football ace Bhaichung Bhutia's boycott notwithstanding, former Olympians Milkha Singh and G S Randhawa said they will take part in the April 17 Olympic torch relay here.

They were of the view that sports arena should not be used to make political statement.

Their stand is in contrast to football captain Bhutia's views who has announced that he will not run with the Olympic flame when it arrives here as he has sympathy for the Tibetans who are opposing the Beijing Olympic Games.

''I sympathise with the Tibetans' cause. I'm against violence but I thought I should stand by the Tibetan people in their fight,'' Bhutia said.

However, Milkha Singh was of the view that sports and poltics should not be mixed. ''Personally, I feel sports and politics should not be mixed. And I'll surely take part in the relay.'' Randhawa said taking part in the relay was an honour, which he would not like to miss.

''Whoever takes what stance is completely up to them. I think Olympics stand for peace and harmony and politics should not be allowed to mingle with sport.

''I have received an invitation from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and it's a matter of great pride and honour for me. I'll be there in the relay,'' said the hurdler.

''If government is endorsing the relay and making all the arrangements, I think there is no reason for me to skip it,'' he said but added ''Bhaichung did what he felt was right but for him.'' UNI HSB RAR HT1932

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