Israel is Reportedly Barred from International Sport Event in Moscow
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Israel is Reportedly Barred from International Sport Event in Moscow

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Israel, South Korea and South Africa have been barred from participating in the opening ceremonies and sports competition of the Goodwill Games beginning in Moscow on Saturday, according to an official for the Turner Broadcasting System.

The official, Jim Trahey, a TBS vice president for sales and one of the principal spokesmen for the Goodwill Games, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Tuesday that the Soviet government, which is cosponsoring the Games with TBS, insisted on the exclusion of the three countries.

Monday, another TBS spokesman in Atlanta, Alex Swan, told the JTA that both Israel and South Korea would be participating in the world basketball championships in Spain which coincide with the Goodwill Games in Moscow.


Turner bought the television rights to the basketball championships and has incorporated it into the Goodwill Games broadcast, Trahey said.

Although the basketball competition in Spain is the “official” basketball event for the Goodwill Games, South Korea and Israel have not been invited to the opening ceremonies in Moscow.

All other countries represented in the 18 sports events have received invitations to those opening ceremonies, Trahey said. The basketball championships were not planned as part of the Goodwill Games and the invitation to Israel to participate did not come from the Goodwill Games sponsors.

Swan told the JTA Monday that the reason Israel will not be participating in any of the 17 other sporting events is because Israel did not qualify for invitations. Only the top 10 athletes in any given sport received invitations from the Goodwill Games and Israel only falls into the top 10 in men’s basketball, Swan said.


A spokeswoman at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations here told the JTA Monday, “All countries are invited to participate–there are no restrictions.” She said the games were designed primarily as a competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union but other nations that wanted to participate were accepted. A spokesman at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, however, could not confirm this information.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday that the Center is continuing an investigation into the barring of Israel from the games. “Turner Broadcasting may have crossed the lines of international sports by issuing a de facto endorsement of Soviet foreign policy objectives,” Cooper said.

The Goodwill Games will be the first major multi-sport competition between the top American and Soviet-bloc athletes since the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Both the Soviet Union and America have each boycotted one Olympic Game since then for political reasons. The Goodwill Games will last 16 days.

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