Bill aims to stop Bush attending Olympics opening gala

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am

US lawmakers have moved to prohibit President George W. Bush from attending the Olympics opening ceremony amid a global uproar over the crackdown in Tibet .

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Thaddeus McCotter - chairman of the House policy committee of Mr Bush's own Republican Party - which would compel him to skip the ceremony.

In addition, 15 lawmakers from the Republican and Democratic parties asked Mr Bush in a letter to 'renounce your decision to attend the Olympics in China, and urge the Chinese government to change its policies and begin to respect international standards of human rights'.

The bill seeks 'to prohibit federal government officials and employees' from attending the opening session based on Beijing 'brutalising protesters in Tibet'.

'Given what is happening to the people of Tibet, it would be a careless sign for the president of the United States to attend those Games,' Mr McCotter said.

'President Bush, as the leader of the free world, must uphold America's beacon of liberty to the world's oppressed.

'This noble cause is harmed through his attendance as a guest of this oppressive communist government.'

Mr McCotter said he expected lawmakers from both sides to back the bill, which Mr Bush could still veto.

'I think more than anything, the president will see how serious members of Congress view this situation,' he said.

The US leader has said he plans to attend the Games in August despite calls for world leaders to boycott the ceremony over the Tibet crackdown.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will not attend the ceremony, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out following suit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top US Democratic lawmaker, also on Tuesday urged Mr Bush to 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,' she said.