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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Malaysia boycotts arts festival
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuching in Malaysian Borneo

Meeting between Malaysian officials and a delegation from the Delphic Organisation (courtesy of the Delphic Organisation)
Organisers of the Delphic Games met Sarawak officials in June
An international arts and crafts competition has been left in chaos after the host nation, Malaysia, pulled out at the last minute.

The International Delphic Games are an attempt to revive an ancient Greek festival which promoted peace and understanding through culture.

International events have been hit by boycotts before - the 1980 Moscow Olympics being just one example.

But no one can remember a boycott by the hosts.

Hundreds of Malaysians were due to help organise and take part in the International Delphic Games, which opened on Thursday, but local officials told the BBC that the order not to participate came from the state government in Sarawak, where the games are taking place.

A quarter of million dollars in funding has also been withdrawn.

Officials say their government caved in to pressure from a Russian group which claims to have the right to stage the games after it broke away from the Delphic Movement's governing body.

It's a far cry from the peace and understanding which are supposed to be prevalent during the week-long event.

However the Games have been partly salvaged by a group of South African volunteers - and many events, including song, dance, story-telling and music competitions will still go ahead.

Meanwhile the South African delegation, which is due to stage the Junior Delphic Games in 2007, says it will be working to resolve the Russians' grievances as a matter of urgency.


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Malaysia bans Affleck's Daredevil
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