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1968 Olympic heroes oppose Beijing games

April 12, 2008 at 1:37 PM

BEIJING, April 12 (UPI) -- Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who earned notoriety for their black power salute at the 1968 Olympic Games, are opposing the upcoming Beijing games.

The two former U.S. athletes whose Olympic gesture became a global rallying cry for equality have accused the Olympic Committee of back-stepping by allowing the Olympic Games to occur in the Chinese capital, The Times of London reported Saturday.

"It doesn't appear that we've learned anything," Carlos said. "Forty years have passed and we're back in the same situation."

The Beijing Games have already been the center of controversy as pro-Tibet protesters have disrupted several Olympic Torch ceremonies due to the ongoing crisis in Tibet.

Chinese forces have repeatedly been accused of using excessive force to quell demonstrations in Tibet, leading to an international outcry.

Carlos told The Times that individual athletes would have to make personal decisions regarding the controversial games and Smith warned that some athletes would likely have to make sacrifices.

"If you make a stand at a world event, you will sacrifice a great deal," Smith said. "I do believe the IOC would punish the athlete, possibly even more than we were in 1968."

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