South Africa has raised eyebrows and hackles by refusing to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama. In all likelihood, they did so to appease China. China is a major trading partner, and last year the African National Congress signed a memorandum of understanding with the communist behemoth. Suffice it say, “understanding” China means appreciating how much they loathe Tibet’s spiritual leader. Of course, South Africa won’t admit to this. Instead, they’re invoking their status as host of the 2010 World Cup:
Spokesman for the South Africa president told reporters, “at this time the whole world will be focused on the country as hosts of the 2010 World Cup. We want the focus to remain on South Africa… A visit now by the Dalai Lama would move the focus from South Africa onto issues in Tibet.”
Last year, South Africa imperiled that host status by enabling Robert Mugabe, and now one must wonder whether FIFA is regretting its decision.