Huffpost Politics

Pelosi Suggests Bush Skip Olympic Opener

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that President Bush should consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics following China's crackdown on protesters in Tibet.

"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., said in an interview taped for airing Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "I think the president might want to rethink this later, depending on what other heads of state do."

The White House has said Bush would not boycott the Beijing Olympics, which begin Aug. 8, because of the crackdown, arguing that the games are an event that are supposed to be about the athletes, not politics.

Pelosi, who has a long history of opposing human rights abuses in China, said she does not think the United States should boycott the games entirely. The Olympic torch is making its one U.S. stop in Pelosi's hometown of San Francisco and large protests are expected.

"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 and it should proceed," she said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first European leader to suggest a boycott of the opening ceremony to protest China's handling of the unrest in Tibet. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is skipping the Olympics.

In the 1990s Pelosi led congressional opposition to normalizing trade relations with China. In 1991 she was part of a small congressional delegation that entered Tiananmen Square to honor the pro-democracy activists killed there, leading to a scuffle between police and American news crews trying to cover the event.