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|September 2, 2000||
Aus to apologise to US
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOL) said on Friday it would apologise to the United States team over comments by Australian long jumper Jai Taurima that American athletes described as racist.
Taurima upset the Americans when he dismissed the medal chances of their African-American jumpers, Melvin Lister and Savante Stringfellow, saying they would struggle to cope with the mild conditions in Sydney.
Taurima had said the Americans were "dribblers" who could struggle in the cool conditions in Sydney because of the colour of their skin.
"You can pretty much knock out all the dark athletes," Taurima said at a press conference last Tuesday.
The comments drew a sharp rebuke from the American athletes, who said they had not heard of Taurima but would use his remarks as motivation.
Taurima has already apologised to the Americans and will be allowed to compete at the Games.
But AOL president John Coates said he would also apologise to the Americans and speak with Taurima.
"If the comments are accurately reported, then they are at odds with the team values to which all our Olympians aspire," Coates told the Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
"We should respect our competitors and there should be no racial jokes, even if it was a joke."
Taurima, 28, told the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph he was sorry for his statements and said his comments were not racially motivated.
"My dad is dark. My dad is part-Maori," he told the paper.
"I'm just trying to drum up a bit of media for the long jump, that's all."
The row has strained relations between the Australian and U.S. teams who are sharing training facilities at Nudgee College, north of Brisbane.
Taurima, Lister and Stringfellow are due to line up against each other in a track meeting at Nudgee on Sunday.
Mail Sports Editor
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