Tibetan Group Denies Olympic Threat

NEW DELHI, India Mon 18 Jun 2001 (AP) - A Tibetan group disavowed itself from a letter threatening violence to IOC members who back Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee last week turned over to Swiss police a letter - purportedly from radical Tibetans - threatening ``serious bodily reprisals'' against members who support China's candidacy.

The one-page typed letter, signed by a self-described radical faction of the Tibetan Youth Congress, was faxed to IOC members around the world and to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Tseten Norbu, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, sent a letter to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch stressing that his group ``has no knowledge'' about the letter and ``no role'' in its dissemination.

Norbu suggested the letter was part of a Chinese bid to discredit his group's peaceful campaign against the Beijing bid.

``We profoundly regret that IOC has given undue importance to a wired letter without authenticating with us the factual response,'' he wrote.

The Tibetan Youth Congress, based in Dharmsala, India, opposes Chinese policies in Tibet. China occupied Tibet in 1950. India is home to about 100,000 Tibetan exiles who have fled since a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

``Our struggle is peaceful ... there's no history of violence in our protests,'' Norbu told The Associated Press. ``We are totally against Beijing hosting the Olympics, but no threatening letter was issued from any of our offices in the world.''

Beijing is considered the front-runner in the race for the 2008 Olympics. Toronto and Paris are the main challengers, with Osaka, Japan, and Istanbul, Turkey, the other candidates. The IOC will select the host city on July 13.