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Vanhanen Will Not Boycott Olympics

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said he will not boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in China. In an interview on YLE's Saturday morning political discussion programme Lauantaiseura, Vanhanen said Finland has a policy of keeping politics and sports separate. This week the Left Alliance called for Finland's top officials to boycott the opening of the games due to China's human rights offences. Members of the Swedish People's Party voiced similar opinions. Meanwhile President Tarja Halonen said she plans to attend the Olympics -- but not until the latter half of the games. Minister of Culture and Sport Stefan Wallin announced he'll be on summer holiday during the games. Initially, the prime minister was to wait until this summer before announcing whether or not he would attend the games. However, Vanhanen decided to confirm his participation in the opening ceremonies now. The European Parliament has urged leaders of EU member states to stay clear of the opening of the games. German and British leaders intend to forgo the opening ceremonies, and France is also considering a boycott. According to Vanhanen, the situation in Tibet will be discussed with Chinese leaders in the future. He said he hopes the matter can also be reviewed during the games. YLE

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