British PM won't attend opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will skip the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, a spokeswoman said. This confirmation from Brown's Downing Street office Wednesday means he is the second major world leader after German Chancellor Angela Merkel to do so. However, Brown's Downing Street office said he was not boycotting the Olympics and would attend the closing ceremony. Brown has been under intense pressure from human rights campaigners to miss the Aug. 8 opening. However, Brown's decision not to attend was not aimed at sending a message of protest to the Chinese government, the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. She said the decision had been made weeks ago and was not a stand on principle. "He had never planned to attend," she said. "There is absolutely no change in our position."