IOC's offer to Yugoslavia: Play, just don't take sides Compromise would skirt U.N. sanctions

July 10, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

With new uniforms, a new name and a generic flag and anthem, Yugoslavia may have a place in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

International Olympic Committee officials in Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday revealed details of a compromise that would enable Yugoslav athletes to skirt U.N. sanctions and appear in the Summer Games that begin July 25.

The agreement:

Wear white uniforms. Call themselves the Independent Team. Play under the Olympic flag and anthem.

Yugoslav Olympic officials have until today to accept the proposal.

"It was decided that we would make an official proposal to the Yugoslav Olympic Committee that athletes from Yugoslavia can take part in the Olympic Games," IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch told The Associated Press yesterday.

Yugoslavia's participation was imperiled when the U.N. Security Council included a sports boycott in sanctions it imposed May 30 on the Serbian-dominated state. The measures were designed to end Serbian involvement in the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Samaranch crafted an agreement after meeting last week in London with British Prime Minister John Major. Major then paved the way for a compromise among the Western leaders meeting at the recently completed economic summit in Munich, Germany.

The Western leaders apparently chose to open a loophole in the U.N. sports boycott after Major suggested letting Yugoslav athletes enter the Olympics as individuals.

"We managed to convince a number of people that long-term, this political intrusion into sports was excessive inasmuch as it was hitting innocent athletes," IOC director-general Francois Carrard told the AP. "Why punish them?"

Yugoslavs "would participate representing themselves, not any state," he said.

Spanish authorities said they would not give entry visas to athletes competing for Yugoslavia because of the U.N. sanctions. But Samaranch, formerly Spain's top diplomat, said he had reached an agreement in principle with the Spanish government to accept the compromise.

Yugoslavia is a power in water polo, team handball and basketball. But the country's top basketball players now compete for Croatia.

The country faces international bans in soccer and tennis. Yugoslavia is barred from World Cup soccer qualifying games. Yugoslav tennis players are unable to compete in Davis Cup and Federation Cup events.

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