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Turner Confirms That Israel Was Not Invited to Compete in Goodwill Games

Ted Turner, the free-wheeling entrepreneur whose broadcasting corporation is co-sponsoring with the Soviet government the so-called Goodwill Games now being held in Moscow, confirmed Wednesday night that Israel was not invited to compete in the international sports competition.

“That’s right,” Turner responded when queried about reports that Israel had not been invited to participate in the Games. Turner, head of the Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System, was interviewed by telephone from Moscow on the ABC News television program “Nightline.”

Israel, along with South Africa and South Korea, was not invited to participate in the games at the request of the Soviet government, Turner said. This apparently contradicted a statement from an official at the Soviet Mission to the UN who told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on June 30 that “All countries are invited to participate — there are no restrictions.”

Turner also repeated on the “Nightline” broadcast an allegation that Israel was not participating in the sports event being staged in Moscow because Israel did not qualify for invitations. Only the top 10 athletes in any given sport received invitations from the Goodwill Games. Israel only falls into the top 10 in men’s basketball, according to Turner.

The World Basketball Championship, now being played in Barcelona, Spain, includes a team from Israel. The basketball games have been incorporated into the Goodwill Games broadcast, TBS vice president, Jim Trahey, told the JTA last week. Although the basketball competition in Spain is the “official” basketball event of the Goodwill Games, South Korea and Israel were not invited to the opening ceremonies in Moscow. South Korea is also playing in the basketball games.

The 16 days of sports events in Moscow is the first major multi-sport competition between the top American and Soviet bloc athletes since the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Both the Soviet Union and the United States have each boycotted one Olympic Game since then for political reasons.

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