peace conference is off

Agnieszka Flak

Agnieszka Flak

The 2010 World Cup peace conference of Nobel peace laureates has been postponed after the government denied a visa to Tibet spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, organisers said yesterday.

Several Nobel peace prize winners had threatened to boycott the event over the visa ban, but the government said it was standing by its decision.

Local media said the visa was refused after pressure from China, a big investor and trade partner. However, the government has denied this.

The conference, which was due to take place on Friday, was expected to use soccer to fight xenophobia and racism ahead of the tournament.

"We have decided to postpone the peace conference until further notice," said Irvin Khoza, Fifa 2010 Local Organising Committee chairperson. He said it would be postponed until all those invited could attend.

The Dalai Lama was invited to take part in the conference by fellow Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.

Government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the Dalai Lama's presence was not in South Africa's best interest at the moment. "We stand by our decision." - Reuters