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Samaranch Is Still Optimistic Despite Turmoil

December 12, 1987

Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, said Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland, that demonstrations and other problems surrounding next week's presidential elections in South Korea will not affect the staging of next summer's Games in Seoul.

"We are satisfied. Even with all these election difficulties," Samaranch said. "They support the Olympic Games."

Samaranch also said that he met in China two weeks ago with the head of the North Korean Olympic Committee, Kim Yu-San, and told him the international panel was somewhat concerned over prospects of breaking the stalemate over holding some Olympic events in North Korea.

North Korea has threatened to lead a Communist Bloc boycott of the 1988 Games if its demands to be a co-host are not met. The last day for accepting invitations to the Games is Jan. 17, and Samaranch said he does not expect the Communist countries to respond until just before the deadline.

In Seoul, presidential candidate Kim Young-Sam said that if elected he would make an epoch-making proposal to open the way for North Korea to participate in the Games. He did not elaborate on the plan, but also said he would invite 5,000 North Koreans to the Olympics as guests of South Korea, if he is elected.

North Korean officials have expressed hope that if a new government wins in the South, the North would have a better chance at being co-host of the Games.

In other developments, jai alai and roller hockey were approved as demonstration sports for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Under the Olympic charter, host cities may stage up to two demonstration sports. The IOC board also approved in principle to add whitewater canoeing as a full medal sport in Barcelona.

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