From: Witness

The Other Olympics

This film follows two athletes as they participate in Tibet’s version of the games.

Watch part two

Filmmaker: Nayantara Kotian

The Olympics are seen as an internationally celebrated event where people from all the countries in the world come and compete in an array of events. Unfortunately, in terms of the Beijing Olympics, this is not the case.

If you are Tibetan, the only way you can compete in the Beijing Olympics is by renouncing your Tibetan identity and registering as a Chinese athlete. Many Tibetan sportsmen in exile refuse, seeing this as another way in which China suppresses Tibetan identity.

Dorji Tsering, a talented Tibetan sportsman exiled in India, would ordinarily be looking ahead to the Beijing Olympics, but he refuses to sell his nationality in return for a place on the Olympic stage.

Instead, he took part in the ‘Tibetan Olympics’ – a ten-day event organised as an alternative Olympics by the Tibetans, a defiant gesture to mighty China.


Tibet’s own version of the Olympic games is held in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, where the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government-in-exile reside.

It is an event consisting of ten different sporting disciplines, ranging from track events, high jump, archery and swimming. All the competitors are Tibetan – and all are amateurs.

They must take part in all ten events – even though in some cases they have never done these sports before. Through the innocence and exuberance of sport, the film highlights the underlying issues of Tibet’s status in the world today.

Nayantara Kotian’s film follow two participants – Dorji and Yangchen – as they prepare for and then participate in the competition that for them represents the hope and despair of their native Tibet.