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September 11, 2000
Uzbek government protests banAdrian Warner
Uzbekistan's government has asked Australia to reconsider its decision to ban the country's senior sports official Gafur Rakhimov from the Sydney Olympics because of security reasons, Uzbek sports officials said on Monday.
Boxing official Rakhimov was one of two men stopped from entering the country for the Games which start on Friday. International Basketball Federation vice-president Carl Ching of Hong Kong was also barred.
But Uzbek Olympic official Sabirjan Ruziev told reporters in Sydney that foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov had written a letter to the Australian embassy in Moscow appealing against the ruling.
The letter was sent on September 5 before Australian Prime Minster John Howard said on Saturday that he would not lift the ban.
"Our government has made an appeal about this decision," Ruziev said. "And, of course, we think, if he was a bad man, the government would not act on his behalf."
"They wrote to the embassy in Moscow because we do not have an Australian embassy in Uzbekistan."
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch publicly accepted on Sunday Canberra's decision to ban the officials. Samaranch had written to Howard on Thursday expressing "serious concern" at the decision.
In a letter dated September 9, Howard said the pair had been banned "after consideration of a number of factors including both commitments in relation to the Olympic Charter and concerns relating to the safety and security of the Australian community".
"The paramount consideration in decisions to refuse entry has been the safety and security of the Australian community," he said.
British author Andrew Jennings, in his book "The Great Olympic Scandal", made a number of allegations about Rakhimov, suggesting possible links to organised crime in the former Soviet Union.
But Ruziev said: "Mr Rakhimov is part of our Olympic family. We will stand up for him. We will do our best in order to bring him here and protect his honour."
"All these articles in the newspapers about him, they are tarnishing his good reputation."
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