In Seoul, No Medals for Israel, but Hope of Better Relations

Israel won no medals at the 24th Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, but several of its 20-member team turned in “highly respectable” performances.

That was true in the Flying Dutchman class yacht races off Pusan, where Yoel Selah and Eldar Amir came in fourth out of 22 boats. They missed a bronze medal by only a few points.

Yaacov Shmuel, boxing in the lightweight division, was graded fifth to eighth place. He made the quarter finals after a knock-out win, but lost a decision to an Italian pugilist, who went on to win a gold medal.

In wrestling, Even Bernstein made 11th to 13th place among 22 entrants.

And gymnast Roitel Sharon, who placed 77th out of 90 competitors, went on to win the title of “Miss Popularity” at an unofficial beauty contest among the women athletes to choose a “Miss Olympics.”

Meanwhile, Israeli diplomats are confident that political and economic ties with Korea can be strengthened, now that the stresses and strains of hosting the Olympics are over in Seoul.

The new Israeli ambassador, Nahum Eshkol, presented his credentials to the Korean president shortly before the games opened last month. But further contacts were put on hold because the Koreans were preoccupied with the Olympics.

The Israelis admit they made a mistake by closing down their diplomatic mission in Seoul more than 10 years ago.

BOXING BAN MAY BE REDUCED

The Koreans regarded that move, done for economic reasons, as a slight. They were angered further by Israel’s decision to name its resident ambassador in Tokyo the non-resident envoy to Korea.

When the Israelis sought to resume diplomatic and economic relations in recent months, the Koreans put them off, for fear of antagonizing the Arab Olympic participants and increasing the danger of terrorist attacks during the games.

In another development, Yitzhak Ofek, chairman of the Israel Olympics Committee reported that the five-year ban on the Israel Boxing Association’s participation in international tournaments could be reduced to one year.

The ban was imposed after Israeli boxers competed in South Africa, which is boycotted by the International Boxing Association because of its apartheid policies.

Ofek said he understood from a conversation he had in Seoul with Anwar Chowdry, International Boxing Association chairman, that chances are good Israeli boxers will be able to participate in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

He said Chowdry advised Ofek that Israel should request a reconsideration at the next meeting of the association in Kenya. “I can give you my word of honor I will support a reconsideration request,” he quoted Chowdry as saying.

NEXT STORY