Sports Politics: Go-ahead for South Africa tourists

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(First Edition)

THE Australian and New Zealand rugby unions yesterday confirmed that their tours of South Africa next month will go ahead.

The African National Congress approved the tours on Wednesday but stipulated that the touring teams would have to visit Boipatong as a mark of respect for the victims of last month's township massacre.

The Australian unions issued a statement which said: 'It is not unusual for international teams to be asked to attend memorial ceremonies in the country they visit.'

The Boipatong incident had also caused the ANC to call for South African athletes to withdraw from the Olympics. However, on Wednesday, athletes were given the go ahead to participate if certain conditions - including the wearing of pro-democracy armbands - were satisfied.

Yesterday, the IOC said that South African athletes wearing black armbands as a mark of compassion at Barcelona would be acceptable, but that armbands bearing pro-democracy slogans would have to be studied in the light of rules which forbid political propaganda in the Games.

South African athletes were thrilled by the ANC decision to approve their participation. The Foreign Minister Pik Botha said: 'I have always said the ANC had no real support for its renewed standpoint regarding the sports boycott. They have now realised it.'