Olympics do not belong to China: Aamir Khan

New Delhi, April 2: Bollywood super star Aamir Khan said on Wednesday he would take part in the Olympic torch relay in India 'with a prayer' in his heart for the people of Tibet, spurning calls for a boycott.

The superstar's announcement came one day after India's football captain Bhaichung Bhutia refused to carry the Olympic torch when it arrives in New Delhi later this month in protest against China's crackdown in Tibet. n an open letter on his website, the 38-year-old Khan said he had "the highest regard and respect for the struggle that the people of Tibet are going through." Khan said he had received requests from friends, family and people associated with "the Tibetan struggle" not to take part in the relay, but added, "I feel the Olympic Games do not belong to China."

"If we were to try and find on this planet a place to hold the Olympic Games where the government of that place has not been responsible for human rights violations (in one way or the other), then I suspect that we would be left with very few options, if any at all," he said.

The Olympic torch is slated to arrive here on April 17. Indian security sources say the route has been altered as a precaution against possible disruption by Tibetan exiles who have been calling for a boycott of the Games.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has repeatedly said he backs China's right to host the Olympics and has rejected Beijing's charges that he is seeking to sabotage the Summer Games in August.

The Olympic torch relay, launched by Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Monday, is the longest ever, lasting 130 days and covering 137,000 kilometres (85,000 miles).

It will pass through 19 countries during April before returning to China on May 4.

Story first published: Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 17:05 [IST]
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