New Delhi :Shri Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Minister of Information & Broadcasting and President of All India Football Federation (AIFF) has said that Shri Baichung Bhutia’s decision regarding not participating in Beijing Olympic Torch Relay is on personal grounds and not related to AIFF and Football fraternity.
In a statement issued today, Shri Dasmunsi said, “ The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay being passed through India and is expected to be received by Indian Olympic Association, on 17th April 2008. True, that the Indian National Football Team Captain, Padma Shree Shri Baichung Bhutia was invited to grace the occasion, which is also an honour to the Football fraternity. But Shri Baichung Bhutia, expressed his desire not to take part or participate in this function, for some personal reasons, is purely an expression of his Fundamental Right and is own decision, totally unrelated to AIFF and Football fraternity.
While Football as a whole and All India Football Federation is a part and parcel of the International Olympic Movement and especially for the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, 2008, it is a fact that on several occasions in the past, in the history of international sports and games hosted in several parts of the world, on the grounds of human rights against serious violence, artists, human right activists, players, scientists, academicians and eminent intellectuals, did express their mind in their own individual capacity without any assault to the honour of the Sports or Olympic movement.
People’s Republic of China and India are two important nations in the globe as well as great friends and partners of socio-economic progress. The Government of India is engaged in further strengthening the ties through several bilateral initiatives. We all welcome the Beijing Olympic Games and participation of India in the said event including the torch relay.
Our Football National Team Captain Shri Baichung Bhutia, hails from one of our important Himalayan State, Sikkim. His concern on Lhasa incident is a concern of any other human rights activist or social activist or cultural legacy of the monks, etc. against the violence.
I had a telephonic talk with Shri Baichung Bhutia and we understood his sentiments. All India Football Federation welcomes the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay as a part of the legacy of Olympic Movement at the eve of Beijing Olympics 2008 and we wish the success of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.”