Let the diplomatic Games begin... but which leaders are taking part?

Who's coming

*George Bush

A quiet confirmation from the White House on Independence Day helped turn the tide for China. Mr Bush is believed to have accepted a personal invitation from his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, and Japan and Russia quickly followed suit. He said a snub would insult the people of China. Covering his bases, Mr Bush got his criticism of Beijing out of the way yesterday.

*Sonia Gandhi

When it came to its rival developing superpower, China did not send an invitation to either the Indian head of state Pratibha Patil or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, inviting instead Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born head of India's Congress Party and widow of the assassinated prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. She wasted little time in accepting.

*Nicolas Sarkozy

Unsurprisingly he has been the one to generate the most controversy. First flirted publicly with a boycott before thinking harder about the true cost of such a snub. Later realised that selling the Airbus and nuclear technology were greater priorities – whatever his human rights critics said. And he's curried favour by shying away from meeting the Dalai Lama during the Games.

*Kevin Rudd

The Australian Prime Minister has told the Chinese some awkward truths in their own language. The former diplomat and Mandarin speaker called on Beijing to engage with the Dalai Lama in March and followed it up with a candid visit in April. He stopped short of boycotting the opener in a move which might have threatened trade links.

Who's not going

*Gordon Brown

He is a realist over relations with China, having agreed fresh trade deals with Beijing this year, but he was unable to resist the temptation to hint at dissent and opted to stay away from the opening ceremony after the crackdown in Tibet. Mr Brown insists the two are not connected. For a politician in his parlous situation, he might regret opting for the closing ceremony instead.

*Angela Merkel

The most straightforward of Europe's leaders on issues that China finds uncomfortable, she risked the ire of Beijing by welcoming the Dalai Lama to Berlin last year – something her predecessor Gerhard Schröder hadn't dared to do. She has been equally blunt in pointing out that the Olympic opener clashes with her holiday, so she will not be attending.

*Stephen Harper

Canada's prime minister appeared to be swimming with the mainstream when he confirmed in April that he would not attend the Bird's Nest show. Looking around the G8 he had the Italians, Germans, Brits and, he thought, the US with him. A few months later the snub looks more costly and Canada's trade minister has been forced to assure the public that it won't hit exports.

*Hans Gert-Pöttering

The president of the European Parliament is the only leading political figure to formally boycott the ceremony. Without a trade portfolio to defend – or at least with others to do that job, he felt free to take a stand over China's treatment of the Dalai Lama. It remains a moot point whether the invitation list ever included the German politician.

And who wasn't welcome

*Robert Mugabe

The embattled Zimbabwean leader got his refusal in first, saying that talks to resolve the political crisis prevented him from going. However, Beijing had already made it clear in private that he was not wanted. While Mr Mugabe does not usually do as he is told, he was not willing to embarrass his Chinese backers, at a time when he needs them more than ever.

*Omar Al-Bashir

While he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, he has not been invited by Beijing. The Sudanese leader can count on Chinese support so long as he keeps the oil exports coming, but his is not a friendship Beijing wants to project. Darfur has been rivalled only by Tibet as a negative factor in China's international image.

*Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The unpredictable Iranian leader was among the few leaders the rest regard as a pariah who was offered a seat at Beijing. He politely refused the invitation in May but said he might show up for the Paralympics. Despite Tehran's insistence to the contrary, some sources insist that China had made an offer it wanted the man in Tehran to refuse.

*Kim Jong-Il

It's hard to know whether the North Korean leader's decision to stay at home has been greeted with greater relief in Beijing or Washington. A public encounter with Kim was not a prospect to thrill the White House – or his South Korean counterpart. Instead, his right-hand man Kim Yong Nam will be a "guest of honour".

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Rebel, rebel: Vivienne Westwood in her baroque-influenced early-Nineties designs
fashionWhy we mustn't take Dame Vivienne Westwood for granted
News
The police have been criticised in a raid on the luxury home of Sir Cliff Richard
people
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin