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Ramsamy Gives Signs South Africa Will Go : Olympics: Head of national committee praises key meeting, but says its decision won't be announced immediately.

November 04, 1991|From Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South African sports officials apparently have decided to send a team to next year's Olympics, ending the country's 32-year absence from the Games.

Officials declined to say what decision had been reached at their meeting Sunday, but all signals indicated the reaction would be favorable to an invitation from the International Olympic Committee.

Sam Ramsamy, head of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa, said the decision would not be made public until Wednesday.

"We had a very, very fruitful meeting," Ramsamy said after a day of talks among committee members and other top sports officials.

"We have to wait until the sixth of November, when the decision will be announced."

Ramsamy, who for years led the international sports boycott against South Africa, now favors accepting the IOC invitation.

Most leading anti-apartheid groups, including the African National Congress, also say they would support sending an integrated South African squad to the Games.

However, sports administrators have been squabbling among themselves for months.

The various Olympic sports must be approved by their international governing bodies before their athletes can compete in Barcelona, Spain, next year.

All sports at the top level are integrated, but some governing bodies are still in the process of racial unification. For example, track and field meets have been integrated for years, but the separate governing bodies for whites, blacks and mixed-race athletes are still trying to settle differences.

The Olympic Committee also has been trying to resolve such issues as what flag and anthem the country should use. Some anti-apartheid groups feel the current flag and anthem symbolize white domination and should be changed.

Ramsamy said he would notify the IOC in Switzerland before announcing South Africa's Olympic plans at a dinner Wednesday night in Johannesburg.

South Africa, which last participated in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome, could field medal contenders in sports ranging from track and field to boxing to yachting.

There has been speculation that South Africa will send a small team to the 1992 Winter Games in France. Ramsamy said that issue would be addressed Wednesday.

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