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It's Seoul or Nowhere, Olympics Leader Says

July 08, 1987|Associated Press

LONDON — The International Olympic Committee would cancel the 1988 Summer Olympic Games rather than move them if political problems make it impossible to hold the Games in Seoul, South Korea, a London newspaper reported Tuesday.

"It is Seoul or no 1988 Olympics," IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph. "Either we go to Seoul or there will be no Games."

Samaranch has said in the past that no alternative sites to Seoul have been discussed.

The South Korean capital has been in turmoil recently because of violent protests against the government of President Chun Doo Hwan. Last week, Chun accepted a series of opposition proposals and the situation has stabilized somewhat, although demonstrations have sparked violence again in the last few days.

In Los Angeles, Anita De Frantz, one of two U.S. IOC members, said she was not surprised by Samaranch's strong statement.

"I've been confident all along that the Games would be in Seoul," she said in a telephone interview. "The folks there have worked hard. Certainly they have an important set of issues to resolve for the future of their nation."

The IOC has said throughout the South Korean troubles that it was sticking by the 1981 decision awarding the Games to Seoul and noted that, under the Olympic Charter, only war could be cited as a reason for moving the Olympics.

Several cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Berlin, offered to host the 1988 Games should Seoul be unable to do so.

"We have never discussed an alternative site," Samaranch said. "The Games were awarded to Seoul and the Games will go on in Seoul. . . . We will not change that decision."

Samaranch said the situation in Seoul appeared to have improved in the last week, and "we have 15 months until the Games."

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