April 15, 2008 / 3:19 PM / 10 years ago

German gold medalist to boycott Beijing opening

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German gold medal winner in judo at the 2004 Olympics in Athens said on Tuesday she would not take part in the opening ceremonies in Beijing in protest of human rights violations in Tibet.

<p>Germany's Yvonne Boenisch competes at the Paris International tournament February 9, 2008. REUTERS/Charles Platiau</p>

Joining a debate on whether athletes should use the Olympics to protest against China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet, Yvonne Boenisch said she will take part in the Olympics, but planned to wear a wristband to protest against human rights violations in Tibet.

“Every competitor has to decide for themselves if they want to send out a signal -- I want to make a statement and that’s why I won’t be taking part in the opening ceremonies,” Boenisch, 27, told Germany’s ZDF television network on Tuesday.

But Boenisch, who has already qualified for the 2008 Games, said she was firmly opposed to any general boycott.

“For competitors there is nothing greater than the Olympics,” said Boenisch, who won the women’s under-57 kg division in Athens. “And if there were a boycott it would destroy a thousand dreams.”

(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

Take a look at Countdown to Beijing Olympics blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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