BEIJING, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- China Thursday rebuked reports that the it
would ban foreign athletes from bringing Bibles to the Olympic village during
the Beijing Olympic Games next year, dismissing them as "sheer rumors".
"We have taken note of the reports and checked with the relevant
authorities. The facts prove that the reports are sheer rumors," Foreign
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a routine press conference.
The Catholic News Agency published a report in November citing the Italian
sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport and Spanish daily La Razon as saying that
Bibles were on a list of "prohibited objects" in the Olympic village.
"The Chinese government has never ever issued such a rule, nor any such
statement," Liu said. "China's religious affairs authorities and the Beijing
Olympic organizing committee have not - and could not - issue a rule banning the
Bible in the Olympic village."
China has always respected and protected the religious freedom of
foreigners living in China in line with laws and regulations, he said.
According to the Provisions on the Administration of Religious Activities
of Aliens Within the Territory of the People's Republic of China, foreigners are
allowed to bring in religious publications, audio-video materials or other
objects for personal use, Liu said.
"We are suspicious of the ultimate motivations of those who spread such
rumors. They should be responsible, and not do things that are not beneficial
for themselves and undermine mutual understanding between China and the world,"