Several newspapers, including the Independent quoted the South African government as saying it did not want to endanger the government's relationship with China.
The move prompted sharp criticism from among others the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and Retired Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is, like the Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate. Tutu was quoted as saying that barring the Dalai Lama was "disgraceful."
Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee cancelled plans to participate in Friday's conference. - Our view is quite clear. If Dalai is not allowed in, the Nobel Committeewill not participate in the peace conference, says the Committee Secretary, Geir Lundestad to Oslo newspaper Aftenposten.
- It is disappointing that South Africa, which through the long fight against apartheid has received so much solidarity from the world, doesn't want to give that solidarity to others, says Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad.
The conference is supported by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and Norway has contributed NOK 3 million towards the international peace conference which is arranged in connection with the annual football friendly between Norway and South Africa.
Norwegian Minister of International Developoment, Erik Solheim says Norway does not intend to put pressure on South Africa over the controversy, since it is a South African arrangement. Solheim says to NRK that he has not yet decided whether or not he will participate in the conference.