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Athletics: Indian city refuses to host key Asian event

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

India's southern Tamil Nadu state refused on Thursday to host the Asian Athletics Championships because of the participation of Sri Lanka which it accuses of war crimes.

Chennai, the state capital, was due to host the event in July, but Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa said Sri Lanka must not be allowed to take part.

Jayalalithaa, whose state has a large Tamil population, accuses the Indian Ocean island nation of committing "genocide" against its Tamil minority.

The Tamil Nadu government wrote to the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) stating that the participation of Sri Lankan athletes would "hurt the sentiments of the Tamil people", Jayalalithaa said.

"Since the state government has not received any favourable reply from the AAA, it would not be advisable to hold the meet in Tamil Nadu involving the participation of Sri Lankan athletes," Jayalalithaa said in a statement.

Many politicians in Tamil Nadu have been critical of the Sri Lankan government over its military campaign that defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister's statement comes on the heels of photos splashed in the Indian media suggesting that Sri Lankan soldiers may have executed the 12-year-old son of separatist chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009.

The Sri Lankan government has maintained that Prabhakaran's family died in fighting in the final phases of the civil war.

Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians were killed by security forces in the last months of a no-holds-barred offensive that ended Sri Lanka's decades-long fight against Tamil separatists.

Sri Lanka denies causing civilian deaths.

India last hosted the Asian Athletics Championships in 1989.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130221/athletics-indian-city-refuses-host-key-asian-event