|HOME | SPORTS | OLYMPICS | NEWS|
September 11, 2000
Australia lists 40 undesirablesAdrian Warner
Top Olympic official Jacques Rogge said on Monday no IOC members were among a group of up to 40 people attending the Sydney Games, who would normally have been refused entry to Australia.
Local media reported that Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock had given the final approval to visa applications by the so-called undesirables, who would routinely have been refused entry for a wide range of reasons.
Last week two senior sports administrators, Uzbekistan boxing official Gafur Rakhimov and International Basketball Federation vice-president Carl Ching of Hong Kong, were barred from Australia because of security concerns.
Rogge, the International Olympic Committee's chief coordinator for the Games opening on Friday, said the IOC had not been informed of the group.
But he added: "There is absolutely no IOC members involved. Of course we know that because the IOC has never been informed."
"I am absolutely sure -- 150 percent confident. Otherwise the IOC would have been requested for further information...That's the relations we have with the government."
Asked if he was surprised by the number, Rogge added: "On 50,000 foreigners coming in, no…they have been let in so they must have been minor issues, otherwise the government would have refused entry."
Leading Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper added: "Sport does represent society. (But) the Australian government is satisfied that there was no risk concerning these people."
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said those involved were thought to be competitors, officials and their relatives. Ruddock refused to give names or details.
But he said: "I have to strike the right balance in these matters. We have allowed people into Australia we would not have normally let in."
He told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio: "I don't believe that any of the decisions that I have taken involving controversial applicants pose a risk to the safety and security of the Australian community."
"If they had, they'd have been excluded."
The IOC says all the 140,000 people accredited at the Games underwent security checks before they were allowed to attend. Under IOC rules, the accreditation acts as a visa.
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch expressed "serious concern" last week that accredited members of the Olympic family should be excluded and wrote to Australian Prime Minister John Howard for an explanation.
He later accepted the decision, however, to exclude Rakhimov and Ching.
Gosper said he had talked to Howard about the affair in Melbourne on Saturday.
"He understands why we have that rule (on the visas). It is to ensure that a host government does not take action against someone for political, ethnic or racial reasons."
"On the matter of perceived criminality or judged risks of security, that is a matter for a sovereign country. We wouldn't contest that."
Visas are also routinely refused to those with a history of overstaying or other breaches of conditions.
Ruddock said he was unconcerned by weekend Hong Kong media reports that Ching planned to sue the Australian government.
"I don't think he'd get very far at all, quite frankly," Ruddock said.
"These matters are dealt with in accordance with our law...I have considered them appropriately and I don't think this would give any basis for litigation."
Mail your comments
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK