IOC deputy backs East Timor Olympic bid

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The Independent Online

International Olympic Committee vice president Kevan Gosper is backing the latest bid to have East Timor included in the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Gosper, Australia's most senior Olympic official, said he was in contact with all the leading authorities concerned.

At its executive board meeting in Lausanne last month, the IOC rejected the former Indonesian province's request to be involved in Sydney.

East Timor, which voted for independence last year and is under United Nations administration, is virtually independent but does not fulfill the criteria for Olympic recognition.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio reported Thursday that the IOC, with the help of the Australian Government, was seeking clearance from the U.N. to ensure East Timor met the guidelines for participation.

Only three athletes - in boxing, weightlifting and athletics - were identified as eligible to compete at the Games and the Australian Olympic Committee was prepared to provide athletes with financial aid, the ABC reported.

"We would keep in touch with Indonesia to make sure they were comfortable with this, after all, the athletes we've identified may well have recently represented Indonesia," Gosper said.

Gosper said the proposal had full support from Portugal, former colonial governors of the territory, and other nations around the world.

"The whole thing is to make sure all the players are involved and everybody's traveling in the right direction," he said.

At the executive board meeting, IOC director general Francois Carrard said the IOC recognized National Olympic Committees from independent countries and states, but did not recognize East Timor.

IOC regulations require a country to be a fully independent state with at least five sports federations operating in its territory.