Australians Consider Boycott if Magic Plays

From Associated Press

An Australian Olympic Federation medical official has recommended a boycott against the United States basketball team if Magic Johnson plays in the Summer Games.

Dr. Brian Sando, the senior medical director of the federation’s basketball program, said Wednesday that Johnson, who has tested HIV positive, represents a realistic threat of passing on the infection.

Johnson, who has retired as a player with the Lakers, has said he would like to play for the U.S. Olympic team at Barcelona and in the NBA’s All-Star game next month.

“I would certainly recommend that our basketballers not compete with a team of whichMagic Johnson was a member,” Sando said. “That risk--even though it’s small--you cannot absolutely say it’s never going to occur.”

Several members of Australia’s Olympic team agree with Sando. Center Mark Bradtke has called for compulsory HIV testing for all Olympic competitors.


Center Ray Borner said he has concerns over playing against the Americans if Johnson plays.

“I would have thought that in any contact sport, anybody HIV positive would basically not play,” Borner said. “It’s common sense.

“I’ve been involved in lots of games where people have been bleeding. Even if they have to leave the court, the initial contact could be enough to get infected. It’s a longshot, but it’s possible.”

He said he would consider forfeiting a game if Johnson played.

“If it was a choice of playing for gold or staying off and taking silver, I’d take silver,” Borner said.

Australian Coach Adrian Hurley said the decision to play against Johnson is “entirely up to the player to make a responsible, informed decision.”

But Australian team medical officer Dr. Peter Harcourt said the issue over Johnson is “a storm in a teacup” and said some comments were not informed.

“The only way you might pass (the disease) on is if you come in contact with infected blood and you’ve got an open wound or maybe it’s splashed in the eye,” Harcourt said.