IOC: Israelis, Palestinians to meet in West Bank

Israeli Olympic officials will travel to the West Bank for the

next round of talks with their Palestinian counterparts on

improving cooperation.

Pere Miro, the IOC’s director of national Olympic committee

relations, said Friday that an Israeli delegation has agreed to

meet in Ramallah, calling it an ”extraordinary precedent.”

It is highly unusual for Israeli officials to go to

Ramallah.

Israeli and Palestinian Olympic officials have met twice this

year in Lausanne, Switzerland, in talks brokered by the

International Olympic Committee.

Palestinian Olympic officials are seeking free movement for

athletes, coaches and sports equipment in and out of the West

Bank.

In the previous round of talks in May, both parties agreed on

the principle of lifting travel restrictions ”taking into account

the security issues in the region.”

Israel and the Palestinians also want entry to the 2013

Mediterranean Games in Turkey.

The IOC has promised increased funding from its Olympic

Solidarity program to help more Palestinian athletes prepare for

the London Games, with additional help from Israeli coaches and

facilities.

Meanwhile, the IOC on Friday withdrew its recognition of the

national Olympic committee of the Netherlands Antilles, a territory

of five islands in the Caribbean that was dissolved as a political

entity in 2010.

However, the IOC agreed to allow athletes from the region to

compete under the Olympic flag in London. Four athletes from the

Netherlands Antilles competed at the 2008 Beijing Games, including

sprinter Churandy Martina.

Martina crossed the line in second place behind Usain Bolt in

the 200 meters, but was disqualified for a lane violation.

Miro said athletes from the Netherlands Antilles could also

choose to compete for either the Netherlands or Aruba.

Miro also said the IOC was on track to lift the suspension it

imposed on Ghana’s Olympic committee in January because of

government interference.

Ghana sent about a dozen athletes to the Beijing Games, and its

youth football teams are among the best in the world. Ghana is the

reigning under-20 world champion.

Miro said Kuwait’s Olympic committee will remain suspended

because of government interference. The suspension has been in

effect since 2010.

He said the IOC is still monitoring issues of government

interference in India, Gambia, Panama, Nepal, Afghanistan and

Venezuela, although no sanctions have been taken.