Olympic Games; Carter's Korean task

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The Independent Online
Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee yesterday welcomed efforts by the former president Jimmy Carter to persuade North Korea to compete at next summer's Atlanta Games.

Of the 197 nations invited by the IOC to send teams to Atlanta, North Korea is the only one that has not accepted.

Carter, who sent a letter personally inviting the North Koreans to come, said Tuesday he had been informed by North Korea's leaders that they "are reconsidering participating".

The IOC director general, Francois Carrard, said in Lausanne that he had received no new information concerning North Korea but hoped Carter's initiative would succeed.

"Anything which can contribute to bring all nations to the Games has to be encouraged," he said. "If anybody can deliver, we would only be pleased."

While the deadline for replies was 15 November, Carrard said the IOC would not reject a late entry from the North Koreans. "We are trying not to penalise the athletes," he said. "We would do the utmost with the organising committee to allow any solution to accept athletes."

North Korea boycotted the 1984 and 1988 Olympics but competed at the 1992 Barcelona Games. The North Koreans have not competed in any major international sports competitions over the past year.