Students to rally in support of Beijing Olympics

By Todd Bivins

Olympic celebrations across the world are running into protest, but a UK student group hosting a 2008 Beijing Olympics rally is encouraging students to bridge cultural differences on campus.

The Chinese Student Association will present exhibits highlighting the Beijing Summer Olympics today and tomorrow in the Student Center patio from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We hope to ask the public to be open-minded about the many aspects of China as well as its great and many contributions for the 2008 Olympics,” said Xiaoji Ma, a second-year electrical and computer engineering doctoral student.

Twelve committee members of the CSA organized the event, and more than 200 Chinese students have volunteered to help.

The exhibits will highlight the people within the university and the state who have connections in the Olympics, Olympic history, and the diversity and modernization of China.

“For the Chinese, (the Olympics) are a precious chance to introduce ourselves to the world. And for the world, it is the best time to see a brand new, modernized, more energetic China,” said Ma, who was born in Beijing.

Olympic celebrations around the world have met protests from demonstrators rallying against China’s recent crackdown on anti-government riots in Tibet.

Criticism of China’s human rights record has turned the Olympic torch run, which travels through six continents, into a contentious trek for support for the Beijing Olympics. Ma said the riots do not have a place in the Olympics, which he said should be an international celebration.

“I don’t think there is a relationship between politics and the Olympics,” Ma said. “The Olympics are a bridge for people to know each other rather than a prize for political reasons or a place to show political demands.”

The torch relay, which started on March 31, is expected to last 130 days and covers a distance of more than 220,000 miles, according to the Beijing 2008 Olympics Web site (

“Politics has nothing to do with our exhibition,” Ma said. “I believe China will warmly welcome over 200 nations to its capital to celebrate sportsmanship, athleticism, participation and the human spirit.”

Thus far, the torch has met protest in cities such as Olympia, Greece, Paris, London and San Francisco.

The International Olympic Committee is considering canceling the rest of the torch’s world tour, according to its Web site (