After last week’s historic peace accord between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, Palestine was recommended Saturday for provisional membership in the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC’s 11-member executive board made the recommendation, which will be forwarded to the full membership when it meets in its 101st session here this week.
If the recommendation passes, as expected, Palestinian athletes will be eligible for participation in the 1994 Winter Olympics in February at Lillehammer, Norway.
But because Palestine has no athletes who compete in winter sports, the IOC’s director general, Francois Carrard, said it probably will make its first Olympic appearance in the 1996 Summer Games at Atlanta.
“I think there would be some magic to that, especially in view of recent developments,” said Billy Payne, president of Atlanta’s organizing committee.
Although Palestine is recognized by 10 international sports federations participating in the Summer Olympics, the IOC has rejected its attempts to become a member because it did not have a territory. That obstacle, however, was removed when Israel and the PLO agreed upon limited Palestinian self-rule for Gaza and Jericho.
Carrard said Palestine’s membership would remain provisional until unspecified technicalities are resolved.
Acknowledging that the executive board was sensitive to the fact that Palestinian terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli delegation during the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich, Carrard said: “That was a very black moment in the history of the Olympic movement in 1972. But this is 1993. The time, the men and the people have changed. The National Olympic Committee of Palestine can certainly not be held responsible for what took place 20 years ago.”
The IOC’s executive board also recommended membership for Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros Islands, Dominica, Sao Tome and Principe, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia. . . . Women’s soccer became a permanent addition Saturday to the Olympic program, while men’s and women’s beach volleyball was approved for the 1996 Summer Games at Atlanta. Events added to cycling competition were men’s and women’s individual road time trials, a women’s track points event and men’s and women’s mountain bike cross-country races. The men’s 100-kilometer team time trial was eliminated. An addition in track and field was the women’s triple jump.