07.10.2003 Sports News

IOC to sponsor all athletes to Athens

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Abuja, Nigeria, Sept 7 - GNA - The InternationalOlympic Committee, (IOC) will pay all the bills of athletes who qualify to participate in the 2004 Olympic Games billed for Athens, Greece.

Dr Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC said in Abuja on Monday that the move is to ensure that all 203 affiliate countries are represented at the Games.

Addressing a press conference at the Media Centre of the National Stadium Complex on Monday, Mr Rogge said countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan that have been victims of multi force invasion will be assisted to present teams in Athens.

He said the hosting of competitions such as the Abuja Games will afford the African countries the opportunity to develop their infrastructure, which will enable them to host global competitions such as the Olympic Games.

The president said the IOC will, however, not zone the Olympic Games, as FIFA has done to give Africa the chance but will continue to lower the cost and reduce the complexities associated with the Olympics to make it easier for many more countries to compete to host.

He said, "there must, however, be a candidate first before the hosting rights could be awarded. If there is no candidate from Africa it will be difficult for her to get a host."

Dr Rogge said the Committee will be very tough on doping in 2004, as 4,000 athletes will be tested and the IOC is in consultation with the World Anti Doping Agency in that respect, adding that the IOC has so far spent over 35 million dollars in dope control measures.

In answer to a question, the IOC president said traditional African sports could only become Olympic sports if they are competed for in at least 75 countries

He congratulated Nigeria on the structures they have put in place for the All Africa Games and thanked them for their warm hospitality. Present at the function were Colonel Musah Mohammed, Minister of Sports and Social Development, Mr Abu Ahmed, president of the Nigerian Olympic Committee, Brigadier Fred Chijuka, First vice president of the LOC and Major General Henry Adefowope, life patron of the IOC.

Dr Rogge was in Nigeria to witness the opening ceremony of the Abuja Games.

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