Deny Israel-south Africa Sports Rift
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Deny Israel-south Africa Sports Rift

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The Israel Olympics Committee (IOC) Plenary announced last Right that it had not suspended sports relations with South Africa. It claimed that IOC chairman Yitzhak Ofek’s statement that the IOC presidium had done so was an incorrect report in the press.

Chaim Wein, the IOC’s vice chairman, said the relations with South Africa will continue as before with Israel following the rules set by international sports federations on South Africa. This means that Israel will continue to compete with South Africa in sports where international federations have not banned South Africa because of its apartheid policy.

The Plenary meeting last night come after a storm of protests in Israel over the repotted action of the IOC. Bath the foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Education expressed anger that the action came without the government at being consulted. They said the IOC’s statements had damaged Israel. At the same time they praised restraint shown by South Africa. It was noted that South African Jews and some South African sports figures expressed understanding of the situation in which Israel was being pressed.

Maccabi leaders were especially upset since they feared the decision would endanger the 11th Maccabiah scheduled for 1981. South African Jews are permitted to participate in the event, according to rules of international sports federations, and they were major participants in the lest Maccabiah.

The Maccabi leaders had demanded that Ofek resign for mishandling the situation, improper negotiations, and for not consulting with the government. He refused and blamed all of the problem on misquotations by the press.

After the press reported that the IOC had suspended sports relations with South Africa, Ofek told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the suspension was only until after the 1980 Moscow Olympics so as not to give the Soviet Union a pretext to bar Israel from Moscow.

The IOC acted after it was advised by Lard Killanan to refrain from sports relations with South Africa to prevent the adverse publicity such relations is causing Israel. The IOC presidium agreed to keep a low profile, but when the information was relayed to the press it was given as a suspension in relations. The IOC Plenary said it had discussed Killanan’s recommendations but that it will continue its present policy.

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