Pelosi: President Should Consider Boycotting Olympics' Opening

House speaker tells GMA that games should go on, but protest should be heard.

ByED O'KEEFE via logo

March 31, 2008— -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not want the U.S. to boycott the Beijing Olympics, but she says that President George W. Bush should consider skipping the opening ceremony.

"I think boycotting the opening ceremony, which really gives respect to the Chinese government, is something that should be kept on the table," Pelosi, D-Calif., told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in an interview airing Tuesday. "I think the president might want to rethink this later, depending on what other heads of state do."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will not attend the Olympic Games, set to begin on August 8, 2008. Pelosi, meanwhile, has been outspoken in support of Tibet, the site of recent crackdowns on human rights demonstrators by the Chinese government.

In a recent trip to Dharmasala, India, home of the Dalai Lama's displaced Tibetan government, Pelosi said, "If freedom-loving people don't speak out against China's oppression of people in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out against any oppressed people."


In her interview with GMA, the speaker continued to denounce China's rule over Tibet and expressed regret that the communist nation would play host to the summer games.

"I don't think China should have gotten the Olympic Games to begin with," Pelosi told GMA. "I had a resolution in the Congress which was very popular, and bipartisan support on it. But they did get them with the promise that they would open up more and have better respect for human rights and freedom of expression. They have not honored that."

Speaker Pelosi contends the recent violence in Tibet proves China has not committed to improving the country's human rights record.

"People have been saying they're shooting our people like dogs," Tenzin Norgay, the spokesman for the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, told ABC News, citing sources inside Tibet.

Despite those reports, Pelosi insists that the Games should go on.

"There's a difference between that ceremony and the actual athletic events," Pelosi told GMA.

"I don't agree with the perception that is out there that the Olympic Games are this great, unifying, human rights-advocating organization. It's a sporting event. It's a sporting event and it should proceed," said Pelosi.

But the House leader also sees an opportunity, and she urged the International Olympic Committee to use its influence to pressure China.

"[The International Olympic Committee] should insist that China honor the commitment that they made. But they have not, and the Olympic Committee is just proceeding. They should. The plans are in the works. The athletes have trained. It should go forward," she said.

During her recent trip to India, Pelosi cited "karma" when commenting, "Little did we know, we would be coming at such a bad time," in reference to the outburst of violence in Tibet.

Since 1959, Tibet — known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China — has been occupied by the Chinese, who claim a historical right to the small country at one of the highest elevations in the world.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in that year and has not returned since. Pelosi visited the spiritual leader of Buddhism in India, where he has lived in political asylum for over forty years.

"It was our karma because we are here to help the people of Tibet," Pelosi said at the time.