An Israeli official said Monday that the Palestine Olympic Committee’s acceptance into the Olympic Council of Asia is “political propaganda,” and he said he may protest to the International Olympic Committee.
The official, Isaac Ofek, president of the Israeli Olympic Committee, said by telephone from Tel Aviv that he wants to investigate further before taking action.
“First of all, I want to know all the details,” he said. “Then I can know what to do in the future. But if what I have read is true, I will ask the International Olympic Committee to react.”
Ofek said that one alternative would be to ask IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch to impose sanctions against the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the sports governing body for 37 Asian nations. Israel was excluded from the Olympic Council of Asia in 1982.
Meeting here during the Asian Games, the OCA’s general assembly voted unanimously last week to admit an entity called the Palestine Olympic Committee as a provisional member.
Officials here said that Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, also acts as head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, and, in that capacity, he took part in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Sports officials here tend to treat the PLO and the Palestine Olympic Committee as interchangeable.
Not Eligible to Compete
Fahad Sabah of Kuwait, the OCA president, said the vote was taken on behalf of the Palestine Olympic Committee, which is not recognized by the IOC.
Fahad said Palestinians would not be eligible to compete in the Asian Games until the Palestine Olympic Committee had acquired full membership, an issue he said could be addressed at the 1987 OCA meeting in Calcutta or at the organization’s 1988 meeting in Seoul. Admission as a provisional member would be a prelude to full membership in the Asian organization and then the International Olympic Committee.
But Ofek said that, “according to the Olympic charter, there is no such thing as provisional membership. I don’t know what that means. I think this is only a demonstration or something like that.
“There is not even such a thing as the Palestine Olympic Committee. The Olympic charter says that all member nations must represent a territory, which Palestine does not. I don’t think I can take this seriously. I declare this a stupid step.”
Says Door Open to Israel
Fahad said last week that the Olympic Council of Asia is not governed by the IOC charter.
At a press conference Saturday, Fahad also indicated that the door is open to Israel. He said the OCA could not exclude any nation within Asia that has IOC membership. But he said Israel has not followed the “proper procedures” required for membership.
Ofek said Israel has not submitted an application because “we know it would be rejected immediately.” He said an overwhelming majority of OCA members, led by the 13 Arab nations and the Palestine Olympic Committee, is opposed to Israel’s membership.
“We have strong support from Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea,” he said, “but that is not enough.”