London, July 11 : After China prohibited political banners and flags showing solidarity towards the Tibet issue during the Beijing Olympics beginning August 8, human rights activists and those running the 'Free Tibet Campaign', have evolved new methods for athletes to show their concern for the issue.
They have urged athletes to make "T" signs with both hands, or speak about the issue in Chinese language during press after events, to show their concern for the situation in the Himalayan region.
But, this might have a bearing on the athletes indulging in such acts. During the 1968 Games in Mexico City, two US sprinters who won medals were suspended from the American team and banned from the Olympic Village for their "Black Power" salute in protest at racial oppression.
Anne Holmes, the acting director of the Free Tibet Campaign, said: "British and all other athletes must act as their consciences dictate. We would love to see an athlete dedicate a medal to Tibet, but we are making no demands."
Besides, actors Joanna Lumley and Jeremy Irons are also spearheading a campaign to be launched today to refocus attention on Tibet after the issue consumed the Olympic torch relay in April, prompting a wave of violent protests along the international route.
Athletes will also be guided on ways they can speak out in Beijing on Tibet without jeopardising their place at the Games. This includes voicing their concerns during press interviews after their events or wearing Free Tibet T-shirts around Tiananmen Square, reported timesonline.com.
The IOC has said that athletes will be free to express their views during the Games, but "they must not engage in any kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda inside accredited areas."
However, there is much uncertainty surrounding the definition of 'propaganda', added the report.
The IOC said that the focus of athletes should rest on sport, not politics. "We are aware that organisations are urging athletes to take stands on various issues. How any result, if any, would be interpreted will come down to a commonsense approach, which the IOC will take," Giselle Davies, the IOC's communications director.
Story first published: Friday, July 11, 2008, 16:34 [IST]