November 10, 2007

Divine interception

Bombers have fan in the Dalai Lama

By Joe Paraskevas,
Winnipeg Free Press

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have received all the inspiration they should need to win their playoff game Sunday.

The Dalai Lama, one of the world’s holiest figures, has emerged as a surprise Big Blue booster.

“Victory to the Blue Bombers,” he scribbled in Tibetan with a black Sharpie marker on some Winnipeg Blue Bomber equipment, adding his name to the lore of this city’s Grey Cup-seeking CFL team.

The Bombers play the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division semifinal in Winnipeg on Sunday.

The exiled Tibetan leader signed the helmet and an official CFL football as he flew to Ottawa two weeks ago.

Winnipeg businessman David Asper had sought permission from Tibetan officials to have the Dalai Lama sign the Blue Bomber gear.

Asper, executive vice-president of CanWest Global Communications, who has made a bid to buy the Bombers and build the team a new stadium, was among about 100 people to meet the Dalai Lama when he was given a reception by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On Friday, Asper said he was simply showing the Dalai Lama how passionate Bomber fans are for their team.

“It’s an amazing photo,” Asper said of the photograph taken after the Dalai Lama had inscribed the helmet and football Asper had supplied.

“I don’t think there’s anybody with a photo like this.”

The original photo of the Dalai Lama and the Bomber gear is in Asper’s office. Asper said he had also sent a copy to the team.

Leaders of Canada, the United States and Germany have drawn criticism from the Chinese government for meeting recently with the Dalai Lama.

China has branded the Dalai Lama a separatist and accused the foreign countries of interfering in Chinese politics.