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Olympics damaged by anti-China protests, says MP


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Hugh Robertson MP
Hugh Robertson MP

The chaotic scenes surrounding the Olympic torch relay through London as anti-China protestors tried to disrupt the event have damaged the reputation of the Olympic movement, according to a Kent Conservative MP.

Hugh Robertson, the shadow sports minister and Faversham and Mid Kent MP, said the protests during the relay were inevitable but could have been limited had Gordon Brown stopped the torch from passing Downing Street.

Mr Robertson said: “I think the television pictures will have left people feeling a bit uneasy and wondering if the Olympic ideals are quite as pure as they are made out to be. These scenes were inevitable once the IOC decided to give the Games to Beijing. Once that decision was made, it was always going to make it difficult to make the Olympics about sport and not politics.”

Politics was now “part of the DNA” of the Beijing games, he added.

He said organisers of the London games needed to ensure that by 2012, people appreciated the primary focus of the games should be on sport.

“When the games come to us, we have to puncture this whole Olympic belief that it is about an economic jamboree and bring it back to 17 days of world class sport,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour MP Derek Wyatt, a parliamentary aide to sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, said the protests were serious but so long as their actions were legal, people were entitled to protest.

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