Israelis Upset over Wrestling Federation Accepting Palestinians to Compete in Olympic Games

Israelis are upset by the International Amateur Wrestling Federation’s acceptance of a Palestinian team — "Falastin" — as a non-national associate eligible to compete in the Moscow Olympic Games. But they are divided over whether an Israeli presence in Moscow might have blocked recognition of the Palestinians.

Labor MK Orah Namir, who heads the Knesset’s Sports Committee, observed today that Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat paid an official visit to the Olympic Village in Moscow yesterday only eight years after PLO terrorists massacred the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics. Charging that the world has forgotten the horrors of the Munich massacre, Namir announced that she would convene her committee to consider possible Israeli reactions to the recognition of the Palestinian wrestlers.

Some Israelis expressed the view that if Israel had not boycotted the Moscow Olympics and had its sports officials there, they may have prevented the admittance of the Palestinians to the Wrestling Federation. But Shmuel Lalkin, director general of the Israel Sports Federation, disagreed. "Even if we had been there, acceptance was inevitable. Israel could have caused some difficulties but would not have been able to prevent it," he said.

"Falastin," now a member of five international sports federations — weightlifting, table tennis, handball and basketball, in addition to wrestling — is eligible for membership in the International Olympic Committee although it represents neither a state nor a government.

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