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Tennis Millionaires Can Compete in 1988 Olympics

May 11, 1987|From Reuters

ISTANBUL, Turkey — The International Olympic Committee agreed by acclamation today to admit professional tennis players to the 1988 Seoul Games.

The long-awaited decision, expected to have more impact than virtually any other single decision in disposing of the nominal amateur code enforced since the Olympics were revived in 1896, opens the door for tennis millionaires Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova to compete in Seoul.

The professionals will, however, be required to live in the Olympic village with the other competitors rather than stay in the sort of luxury accommodation they are accustomed to on the Grand Prix circuit.

"When a man earning $1 million a year lives in the Olympic village, sleeping in a small bed and eating the same food as the other athletes, you can say he has the Olympic spirit," French IOC member Count Jean de Beaumont said.

To be eligible for the 64-man and 32-women Seoul singles events, players must comply with a number of other conditions agreed by the IOC and International Tennis Foundation.

Players may not accept financial reward for participating in the Olympics and must suspend, for the period of the games, any commercial contracts under which they normally advertise products on their playing costumes.

They will also be required to comply with the Olympic rules governing fair play, violence and doping.

Players will have to be in good standing with the ITF and their national federations and make themselves available for the men's Davis Cup and women's Federation Cup team events.

Although professionals had been eligible in most other sports in Seoul, the decision to admit the big names of tennis was widely seen as a watershed in Olympic history.

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