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East Germany to Skip Grand Prix Track Finals

July 16, 1988

East Germany will boycott the Mobil Grand Prix track and field finals in West Berlin next month because of a major dispute over former East German athlete Wolfgang Schmidt, the Associated Press reported Friday.

West Germany included Schmidt on its squad at an important track meet last month in Dusseldorf, which pitted the track and field squads from the two Germanys directly against each other for the first time since the nations were formed in 1949. There was speculation that East Germany would withdraw from the meet because Schmidt was on the West German team, but it went on as scheduled.

Then on Friday, well-informed sources in East Berlin were reported as saying that no East German athletes will be allowed to compete at the Grand Prix finals Aug. 26.

Schmidt, a former world record-holder in the discus who was finally allowed to leave East Germany in November 1987 after several years of seeking permission, was not scheduled to compete at West Berlin.

The East Germans are reported to be upset because the West Germans broke a verbal promise to exclude Schmidt from the West German team at the Dusseldorf meet, a source said, adding that the East Germans will also withdraw from meets in Cologne and Koblenz earlier in August.

The East Germans will also oppose any West German moves to have Schmidt compete in the Olympics or any other international competition, according to the report.

Schmidt has said several times that his greatest wish is to compete for West Germany in the Seoul Games, but according to international regulations, East Germany holds veto power over such a move for three years from Schmidt's departure.

East Germany will also reportedly object to any West German plans to include swimmer Jens-Peter Berndt on its Olympic team. Berndt defected from East Germany 3 1/2 years ago but spent some time in the United States before coming to West Germany.

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