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Soviets to Send Team to Seoul for Olympics

January 12, 1988|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union, which refused to take part in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games at Los Angeles, announced Monday that it will send its athletes to the Summer Games this year in South Korea.

A spokesman said the Olympic Games are not only a grand sporting festival but also contribute to an improved international situation.

The Soviet National Olympic Committee's unanimous decision came as no surprise. Moscow allies East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Romania had indicated earlier that they would send teams to Seoul.

However, in an ambiguous statement, North Korea today indicated it has decided not to attend the Games, while apparently leaving open the possibility of a last-minute compromise, according to Reuters news agency.

Marat Gramov, chairman of the Soviet Union's State Sports Committee, said that South Korea has given adequate assurances of security. He said this was in contrast to unsatisfactory guarantees by the Los Angeles sponsors four years ago.

In 1984, U.S. officials rejected the Soviet charge of inadequate security and said it was strictly a reprisal for the U.S. refusal to take part in the 1980 Games in Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Gramov, asked to describe what security measures the South Koreans promised, said they had pledged to follow the Olympic Charter and that "that was enough for us."

Then, reflecting on the American-led boycott of the Moscow Games and the Soviet-led boycott of the Los Angeles Games, Gramov said: "From any point of view this was not the best page in the history of the Olympic Games."

In the future, he said, the Soviet Union will look forward to competing in Olympic events in the United States.

'No Possibility'

North Korea's response was contained in a statement carried by its official news agency and monitored in Tokyo. The North Korean Olympic Committee announced "there is no possibility for us to present application for participation in the 24th Olympic Games," citing the lack of a satisfactory agreement on its proposals to co-host some of the events.

However, the committee said it would reconsider if an agreement can be reached through a direct north-south conference, according to Reuters. The official deadline for applying to participate in the games is Sunday.

In earlier announcing its acceptance of the invitation from Seoul, the Soviet Union said it still supports North Korea's request to put on some of the events in North Korea.

But by agreeing to send its athletes to Seoul, the Soviet Union somewhat diminished North Korea's bargaining power with the International Olympic Committee, which must decide where the events will take place.

Soviet sources said that efforts by the international committee to work out some way to share the Games between the divided and frequently hostile Koreas contributed to Moscow's decision.

The door will be open for continued discussions between the north and south on holding some events in North Korea in order "to guarantee the success of the Games and normalize the situation," Gramov said.

Asked how Soviet athletes can be expected to fare in Seoul, Gramov said he is reluctant to make any prediction.

Talented Athletes

"The results of 1987 (competitions) testify to the fact that we have a good basis for optimism," he said, "but the competition will be tough, because many countries today have talented athletes."

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