White House: Olympics Are About Athletes, Not Politics

White House said Thursday that China's crackdown in Tibet is not cause for President Bush to cancel his attendance at the Beijing Olympics.

Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino Bush's position is that "this should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics."

She said that Bush, in accepting the invitation last year from Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics, told him that the games would "shine a spotlight on all things Chinese."

"That's not necessarily a bad thing," Perino added.

Bush agreed to go to the Olympics during a meeting with Hu in Australia last September during the Asia Pacific Economic Council meeting. A White House spokesman said at the time that Bush was going to the games for the sports and not for any political statement.

Protests against Chinese rule in Tibet have drawn a harsh response from Beijing. Authorities say 325 people have been injured and 16 people died.

The European Union spoke out Thursday against any boycott, saying it would be counterproductive to efforts to improve human rights in China.

"Boycotting the XXIX Olympiad is not the right answer to the current political problems," said a statement from Slovenia, which holds the EU's rotating presidency. "A boycott could signify actually losing an opportunity to promote human rights and could, at the same time, cause considerable harm to the population of China as a whole."

The statement follows a meeting of EU sports ministers in Slovenia on Monday where several nations rejected calls for a boycott over China's human rights record.