OLYMPIC GAMES: US officials woo Chinese on Atlanta

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The Independent Online

American officials have admitted that they are taking extraordinary steps to ensure that China sends a team to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Concerns that China might not compete because of criticism of drug use by their athletes increased last week when the Chinese sports minister cancelled a meeting with leaders of the US Olympic Committee.

The meeting, due to take place today, was to have discussed an agreement on reciprocal drug-testing programmes and the exchange of training and administrative information.

John Krimsky, the USOC's interim executive director, said he was convinced that the last-minute announcement by Wu Shaozu that he had to call off visits to Canada and the United States was unrelated to concerns about Chinese drug use.

But he admitted that he and other Olympic leaders in the United States had made conciliatory gestures to China since the decision earlier this year to bar the Chinese team from the Pan-Pacific Swimming Championships in Atlanta this summer.

It was the second time in as many days that USOC officials had gone out of their way to avoid offending China. Previously, a USOC meeting on drug testing carefully avoided any specific mention of China or Chinese athletes.