Sasakawa appeals against Olympic ban by ChinaChairman Yohei Sasakawa has appealed strongly against a ban on people affected by leprosy and other diseases entering China during the Olympic Games.
June 19, 2008–Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Leprosy and Japan’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy, has appealed strongly against a ban on people affected by leprosy and other diseases entering China during the Olympic Games.
Mr Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and President Liu Qi of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, as well as to President Jaques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee, requesting that the rule be revoked.
“Earlier this week the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, unanimously approved a resolution tabled by Japan entitled ‘Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy and their Family Members,'” said Mr Sasakawa, “and we were pleased to see that China was among the 58 countries which co-sponsored the resolution. However, the ban is clearly an infringement of the human rights of Persons who have been affected by the disease.”
In preparation for the Beijing Olympics, China has published ‘A Guideline to Chinese Law for Foreigners Coming to, Leaving or Staying in China During the Olympics,’ which states that “Anyone with listed diseases such as yellow fever, cholera, VD, leprosy, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis or AIDS will be prohibited” from entering the country during the games.
Leprosy is an easily curable disease that has already been eliminated in 120 countries around the world. In addition, it is only very slightly contagious, and 99 percent of the people in the world have a natural immunity to it.
The recent entry ban does not take these facts into consideration and is a violation of the human rights, not only of people affected by leprosy themselves, but of their families as well, promoting discrimination and stigma, Mr Sasakawa points out in his letter.
The recent entry ban by the Beijing Organizing Committee is in contravention of the UN Human Rights Council resolution that the Chinese national government recently co-sponsored, and promotes misunderstanding about the disease, as well as deepening the human rights violations perpetrated on people affected by leprosy and their families. The Chinese government and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad are urged to take positive measures to rectify this situation.
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Notes to Editors
- Yohei Sasakawa spends one third of every year visiting endemic countries. He has served as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination since 2001, and was recently appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy by the Government of Japan. Mr Sasakawa joined The Nippon Foundation as a trustee in 1981, served as President from 1989 and became Chairman on 1 July 2005.
- For over 30 years The Nippon Foundation has been involved with the global campaign to eliminate leprosy, working with the WHO, governments, international organisations and NGOs. One example of this work is the funding, between 1995 and 1999, of free multi-drug therapy (MDT) for every leprosy-affected person in the world. Since January 2006, the Foundation has launched three annual Global Appeals to End Stigma and Discrimination Against People Affected by Leprosy.