French athletes will not be allowed
to wear their badge [AFP]
The head of the French National Olympic Committee has ruled out allowing athletes from France to wear a badge at the Beijing Olympics that reads "For a Better World.''

French athletes came up with the idea of a badge after China's repression of protests in March in Tibet.

However, Henri Serandour told L'Equipe TV on Monday night that the Olympic Charter must be respected, riling those who saw the badges as a way for athletes to show their attachment to Olympic values and human rights.

The Olympic Charter rules out any kind of "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda'' at all "Olympic sites, venues or other areas.''

Serandour's announcement irked some in France, including Sports Minister Bernard Laporte.

"First off, I don't find the badge very aggressive. It attacks neither China nor anything,'' he said Tuesday on Radio Classique.

"The badge was the expression of French athletes and I find it regrettable that they be forbidden to wear this badge.''

'Lack of courage'

Some French athletes have been strongly critical of the crackdown in Tibet and China's human rights failings.

They argued that wearing a "Better World'' badge would be their way of showing their attachment to Olympic values, values they accused China of not respecting.

The head of press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said the decision announced by Serandour represented a slap in the face for athletes.

"What a lack of courage,'' Robert Menard said on France-Info radio.

"We saluted this initiative, stressing that they could have gone further... But even this minimum isn't accepted by the Olympic movement,'' said Menard.

Reporters Without Borders has been pushing for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the August 8-24 games.