Syrian Olympians train for London in safe, calm

Syrian Olympians train for London in safe, calm

Published Jul. 24, 2012 7:11 p.m. ET

Syrian athletes have been able to safely prepare for the London Olympics despite an uprising at home, according to an International Olympic Committee member from the country.

The IOC has registered 10 Syrian athletes, six men and four women, to compete in seven different sports in London.

''We have many places, calm and safe, for them'' to train, Syrian IOC member Samih Moudallal said Tuesday, adding that ''not all of Syria is uprising and revolution.''

Protests against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011 and became a civil war which activists say has killed at least 19,000 people.


Speaking on the sidelines of the IOC general assembly, Moudallal said it was ''impossible'' for athletes to concentrate on Syria's problems, and that they should think about their own preparations.

''There is many safe areas for them,'' the Syrian official said. ''You can train and practice your daily business easily without any difficulties.''

Pere Miro, the IOC's director of relations with national Olympic committees, said Syrian athletes had been correctly registered for the games.

''Some (athletes) I guess that they are already here and some will arrive. For us, there's not a single problem,'' Miro told The Associated Press.

Miro said ''two or three'' had also trained outside Syria while others ''were for sure inside the country.''

''We were informed that they were training in good conditions. It was the normal process of training,'' the IOC official said.

While the IOC recognizes the Syrian Olympic committee, the Damascus-based body's president, Gen. Mowaffak Joumaa, was denied a visa to come to London by British authorities.

Moudallal said Syrian athletes will take part in the opening ceremony on Friday and ''raise their national flag.''

He picked Majed Aldin Ghazal in the men's high jump as Syria's best medal prospect. Ghazal won the silver medal at the 2011 Asian Championships.

Syrian has won three medals at previous Olympics - one of each color. Most recently, heavyweight boxer Naser Al Shami got a bronze at the 2004 Athens Games.