Raising the Bar on China German Pole Vaulter Plans Tibet Protest at Olympics
German pole vaulter Anna Battke plans to protest China's intervention in Tibet at the Beijing Olympics. Although Olympic regulations prohibit political statements, Battke wants athletes to dress up as Tibetan monks and Chinese officials and symbolically shake hands.
Anna Battke's recent corporal protest
"What is happening in Tibet at the moment is simply tragic," said Anna Battke, a 23-year-old psychology student and athlete from the University of Mainz Sport Club, in an interview with SPIEGEL.
The Beijing Games will provide competing athletes with an excellent opportunity to make a public statement, Battke said: "It is the obligation of athletes to call attention to injustice."
She envisions a demonstration that could take place during the opening ceremony in Beijing in August, where athletes from across the world would wear coordinated outfits representing a "world team." According to Battke's idea, one group would dress as Tibetan monks, the other as Chinese government officials: "Then we could symbolically shake hands with each other."
The young athlete acknowledged that a collective demonstration with other participants is unlikely, however. "If they have to choose, many would feel that a nice Olympic victory is more important to them," she said.
The Olympic Charter bans any kind of political statements from the games, but Battke says she won't be deterred, even if other athletes don't want to take part in her protest. "I'll come up with something, whatever happens," she said.
Battke still needs to qualify for the Olympics at the German track and field championships in Nuremberg on July 5 and 6. Should Battke make the cut, there is reason to believe she might make good on her protest promise. Earlier this month, at the IAAF World Indoor Championships held in Valencia, Spain, she competed with the slogan "stop doping" written on her stomach in permanent marker.