Subject: Joy as East Timor gets Olympic Games wish

The Age May 29, 2000

Joy as East Timor gets Games wish

By Mark Dodd and Jacquelin Magnay

East Timor has welcomed an International Olympics Committee decision to allow athletes from the world's "newest nation" to compete at the Sydney Games.

But under the IOC decision, the handful of East Timorese athletes will compete as individuals and will march behind an Olympics flag.

The athletes, expected to number three or four from boxing and track and field, and possibly a weight-lifter, will compete wearing white uniforms and tracksuits. If victorious, the Olympic anthem will be played. The athletes and team officials will have to sign an agreement preventing them from political activities during the Games and agree that they will not represent before or during the Games any state, nation, country or territory.

IOC director-general Francois Carrard could not confirm the order in which the East Timorese would enter the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony. As individual Olympic athletes, they may march after India.

East Timor National Olympic Committee president Jose Ramos Horta had lobbied strongly for Australia to push for East Timor's inclusion in the games, which start on September 15.

Australian IOC vice-president Kevan Gosper backed the move, as did Portugal, on the grounds that the former Portuguese colony, under UN transitional rule, was "virtually independent".

The Indonesian National Olympic Committee was consulted but had no objections.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates called the decision "very good, a great result" and promised that the East Timor team would be able to use Australian team support services during the Games, and the Australian Institute of Sport would help train athletes identified as being at sufficient level to compete at the Games.

Athletes from the former country of Yugoslavia competed as individual Olympic participants at Barcelona in 1992.

East Timor's best Olympic hopes rest with boxer Victor Ramos, 28, a medal winner in the 1993 South-East Asian Games and the 1994 Asian Games.

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