Subject: AU: IOC recognises East Timor

The Australian

IOC recognises East Timor From correspondents in Prague 29jun03

THE IOC board today recommended that full recognition be granted to the national Olympic committee of East Timor.

East Timor won independence from Indonesia in 2002.

After East Timor voted for independence in 1999, the IOC allowed a mainly symbolic four-member team to take part in the 2000 Sydney Games under the Olympic flag as "Independent Olympic Athletes."

IOC sports director Gilbert Felli said East Timor had met the criteria for full IOC recognition by securing affiliation with five international sports federations - cycling, badminton, weightlifting, boxing and table tennis.

Formal approval of East Timor's status will come this week during the IOC's general assembly.

And Afghanistan, which was suspended from the Olympic movement under the Taliban regime, was reinstated today by the IOC.

The IOC executive board lifted the suspension of Afghanistan's national Olympic committee, which was imposed in October 1999 because of the Taliban's ban on participation of women athletes.

Since the Taliban fell in late 2001, the IOC has been helping Afghanistan rebuild its Olympic committee.

Pere Miro, director of IOC relations with national Olympic committees, returned from a recent trip to Afghanistan and reported that women now have a "prominent role" in the country's sports programs.

It clears the way for Afghanistan to send a team to the 2004 Athens Olympics. The IOC will consider whether Afghan athletes can meet qualifying standards or will need wild card entries, he said.

Afghanistan last sent a team to an Olympics in 1996, when three dozen athletes travelled to Atlanta.

Afghan authorities say the nation could field competitors in wrestling, boxing, taekwondo, and track and field.

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