Britain to send biggest team

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The Independent Online

Britain will be sending their largest-ever team to the Olympic Games, it emerged yesterday.

Britain will be sending their largest-ever team to the Olympic Games, it emerged yesterday.

The number of British athletes travelling to Sydney is likely to be 320, while officials, coaches and training partners will push numbers up to around 600 - helping to make the 2000 Games the biggest yet, with up to 200 more competitors expected than the 10,000 "limit" imposed by the International Olympic Committee.

The Princess Royal, the president of the British Olympic Association, yesterday suggested one solution to the continuing expansion of the Games - drop team sports.

Recent Olympics have seen women's football, softball, beach volleyball and basketball introduced, while women's water polo makes its debut in Sydney, and Princess Anne, speaking at her home in Gatcombe Park before the first departures for Sydney, said, "I don't think team sports should be part of the games. They are a distortion in terms of numbers."

The Princess Royal also warned Britain's team that they should not think they could turn to lawyers for help if they were accused of cheating.

Princess Anne, who rode for Britain in the three-day event at the 1976 Games, said: "It seems to me a great shame that people will no longer accept that if you take part in a sport then you abide by the rules. If you don't like it or don't like the concept of being drummed out of the sport then don't do the sport."

She welcomed the fact that the expected 320 competitors in the British team will have to sign a contract before going to Sydney, just as athletes did before the Atlanta Games four years ago. The "athlete's contract" pledges the competitor to abide by the BOA's rules and to take any disputes to bindingarbitration rather than seek a solution in the courts.

She said she saw no reason to resign as a member of the IOC following the bribery scandals surrounding Salt Lake City successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Games.

"If there were any reasons for me quitting, they had existed long before and for entirely different reasons. The one thing that shines through about the Olympics is that the athletes always want to go to the Games."