Public want Olympic boycott, poll suggests

Gordon Brown should boycott the Beijing Olympics, according to users.

With the games due to start in a matter of days, the new poll shows massive discontent with the way Mr Brown has handled the Olympics issue and anger at the decision to grant China in the first place.

When asked about Mr Brown’s decision to greet the Olympic torch outside Downing Street, 86 per cent of respondents said they thought Mr Brown had handled the situation badly. Opposition to Mr Brown attending the opening ceremony as a protest against Chinese human rights violations stood at a similar level.

Disagreement with the Olympic Committee’s decision to grant the games to China stood at 79 per cent.

Respondents’ faith in British athletics made for similarly downcast reading, with only 26 per cent of users predicting British medals, while the exact same numbers thought team UK would come back empty handed. Forty-eight per cent of people said they were unsure.

Early promises from Beijing about an improvement in their human rights record and a liberalisation of society have proved ill-founded.

Foreign journalists covering the Olympics arrived to discover the unrestricted internet access they had been promised was nowhere to be seen. Instead, sites on banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Tibetan government in exile or the Tiananmen Square massacre were blocked.

That being said, Amnesty International welcomed the lifting of restrictions on its website in Olympic media venues and – reportedly – other parts of Beijing today.

But the group still attacked the government for reneging on its promises.

Amnesty’s China campaign manager, Kristyan Benedict, said: “It’s good news that the Amnesty site has been unblocked in the Olympics media venues and perhaps elsewhere in Beijing, but it’s still a long way from the ‘complete media freedom’ that was promised.

Amnesty International warned this week the Chinese government was using the advent of the Games to ‘clean up’ Beijing’s street through re-education labour camps and drug rehabilitation programmes.

The opening ceremony of the Games takes place on the August 8th. A Korean journalist managed to film highly secretive rehearsals for the ceremony yesterday, risking a lengthy prison sentence.