Bush Will Attend Beijing Opener

President dashes rights groups' hopes of an Olympic opening boycott
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2008 3:27 AM CDT
Chinese tourists take photos and gather to view the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, which will host the opening gala on August 8.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The White House has confirmed that President Bush will attend the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics—and he's likely to have plenty of seats to choose from in the VIP box, reports the New York Times. Brit Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be in attendance. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was withholding his decision until after progress in ongoing Tibet talks—but now Chinese officials have told him not to bother.

"This is a decision by the president that he really wanted to go in support of our athletes,” said a White House spokeswoman. Critics of China's human rights record slammed the president's decision to attend. His spokeswoman denied that Bush's attendance was a political statement. “He does not look at it that way—but we recognize that others may," she said.