Royal Ballet to defy call for China boycott

The Royal Ballet has insisted that it will tour China this summer despite calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

Dancers from Covent Garden are due to travel to Beijing in June, where they will perform Sleeping Beauty at the opening ceremony of the Cultural Olympiad. They will also perform Manon in Beijing and Shanghai before touring Japan.

Some Tibetan demonstrators have called for a boycott of the Olympics following China's recent crackdown on protests in the region. But the Dalai Lama has said he is against any boycott, insisting Chinese people should not suffer because of the problems in Tibet.

Monica Mason, the director of the Royal Ballet, said the company's biggest star, the late Dame Margot Fonteyn, insisted on visiting South Africa during the apartheid era. "She was determined the arts would not be involved," said Ms Mason. "When you are part of the Cultural Olympiad it is difficult to weigh in on the political side."

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