Spain Bars Israel from Regional Olympic Games
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Spain Bars Israel from Regional Olympic Games

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Arab intransigence over Israel participation in any international event where Arab states are represented has boiled over into the world of sports again. This time, the occasion is the second Mediterranean Regional Olympic Games scheduled for July 16 in Barcelona, Spain. Israel, originally invited to participate, has now been excluded from those games and blame for the reversal has been laid to Egypt and other nations sympathetic to the Arab case.

Hope for another reversal, and the admission of Israel to the games, has been expressed here. Col. Harry D. Henshel, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee and chairman of the U.S. Committee for Sports in Israel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee, had given assurances to Charles L. Ornstein, a member of the executive board of the U. S. Olympic Committee, at the recently held Pan-American games in Mexico City that he would support Israel’s contention that she be included Col. Henshel credited Mr. Brundage with steering Israel’s admission into the International Olympic Committee when Egypt and others threatened to boycott the 1952 Olympics if Israel were admitted.

It is understood here that Mr. Brundage, who received a letter from Nahum Heth, president of the Olympic Committee of Israel, reviewing the regulations for games and banning political interference in the games, had been convinced by the facts as stated in that letter that he should reverse his earlier decision that he had no right to interfere with the make-up of regional games, It is also understood the next meeting of the International Olympics Committee will be held in Switzerland in May.

Carlos Pena Cardenal, vice-president of Spain’s organizing committee for the games, in oblique denial of Egyptian pressure, said that Israel had not been invited only because it was desired that the games be limited to those who participated at the first Mediterranean games in Alexandria in 1951. Principal chink in this explanation is the fact that the principality of Monaco, which did not participate in the first games, will take part at Barcelona. Nor did it explain why Israel was invited in the first place.

Evidence for Egyptian interference is seen in the fact that she threatened to boycott the 1952 Olympics and that she withdrew from the world basketball championships at Rio de Janeiro this year because of Israel participation. Both Col. Henshel here and Mr. Heth, in Israel, flatly stated that it was Egyptian and Arab pressure which caused the withdrawal of Israel’s invitation. Heth underscored that contention in his letter to Mr. Brundage, stating that it was “well known to all others concerned in the matter.”

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