London Guardian 
Thursday, Aug 7, 2008
More than 40 athletes taking part in the Beijing Olympics have today signed an open letter addressed to China’s government urging it to respect human rights and freedom of religion, particularly in Tibet.
Coming on the eve of the opening ceremony, it marks fresh embarrassment for the host nation, which also faced criticism from George Bush and renewed protests in Tiananmen Square.
Signatories to the letter include the men’s 110m hurdles world record holder, Dayron Robles of Cuba, well known to Chinese fans as the main rival to their most famous track athlete, Liu Xiang, the reigning Olympic champion. Others involved included the US 400m runner DeeDee Trotter and the Croatian women’s world high jump champion, Blanka Vlasic.
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The letter calls on China’s president, Hu Jintao, “to protect freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of opinion in your country, including Tibet”.
It asks Hu “to ensure that human rights defenders are no longer intimidated or imprisoned” and to end the death penalty.
“China is the focus of worldwide attention,” it says. “Your decision on these issues will determine the success the Olympic games and the image the world will have of China in the future.”