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September 7, 2000
Sponsor spat keeps Kuerten out of Olympics
World number two Gustavo Kuerten will not compete at the Sydney Olympics because of a dispute between his sponsors and the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) over what he could wear at the Games.
Kuerten, one of the snappiest dressers on the men's tour, made the decision after the COB and his sponsor Diadora failed to agree on the player's kit after months of wrangling.
"I'm very sad about having to make this decision to not go to Sydney," Kuerten said.
"It was a dream for me to go the Olympics and play for Brazil. But I could not go against my sponsor, Diadora, who has supported me since the start of my career and believed in me when nobody knew who I was and the Roland Garros titles were way in the distance," he said.
The COB insisted Kuerten wear the shorts and shirt of team sponsor Olympikus, but he was allowed to wear Diadora shoes and use his normal Head racket.
COB President Carlos Arthur Nuzman said he would make no exception for Guga, as Kuerten is known, despite giving some soccer players and athletes leeway on the sponsors' issue.
Kuerten and his team tried to reach an accord in which the player competed wearing the Brazil shirt, but only if it did not carry the Olympikus logo, but the COB refused.
Diadora signed Kuerten in 1995. Since then, the 23-year-old has won the French Open in 1997 and 2000 and is currently enjoying the strongest season of his career.
His other sponsors Banco do Brasil bank and Globo.com had agreed to let the player drop their names from his clothing for the Olympics, starting on September 15.
Kuerten will now rest before beginning preparations with his coach Larri Passos for the ATP tournaments in Hong Kong and Tokyo in October.
"We had our Sydney tickets booked for Friday and we had trained hard in the last few days to focus on the Olympics," Passos said.
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