Accessibility links

Breaking News

Olympic News: Triathlon, Traffic Jams and Afghanistan - 2001-12-13

It appears that triathlon - which features swimming, cycling and running - will continue to be an Olympic event. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has been upset by an internal political power struggle within the International Triathlon Union, (ITU) and three months ago he warned the sport risked being expelled from the Olympics unless the dispute was resolved.

On Wednesday, Rogge said he is confident there will soon be peace within the governing body. He added that court cases involving the body have been withdrawn.

Since Triathlon Union president Les McDonald was re-elected in Perth last year, a power struggle between the Canadian and his supporters, and a group of European members who want to see him replaced, has threatened to split the sport which made its first Olympic appearance at the 2000 Sydney games.

The 67-year-old McDonald, a Scottish-born Canadian, has been president of the Vancouver-based International Triathlon Union since its founding in 1989. He has continued to face opposition, with several national triathlon chiefs mounting a campaign to oust him. The European Triathlon Federation has also been wracked by turmoil. In other Olympic news, the International Olympic Committee has announced it will send a special envoy to Afghanistan to help the country rebuild its sports programs and field a team for the 2004 Athens Games. IOC president Jacques Rogge said Wednesday he is sending Fekrou Kidane, a senior Olympic diplomat, to Kabul as soon as Afghanistan achieves political stability and forms a stable government. But Rogge ruled out any participation of Afghan athletes at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City because it would be impossible at this point to train athletes by the start of the games in February.

Afghanistan is the only country barred from the Olympics by the IOC. The Afghan committee was suspended in 1999, in part because of the Taliban's policy of prohibiting women from competing in sports. But now with the Taliban removed from power, Olympic officials hope that Afghanistan can be reinstated and send a team that includes women to Athens in 2004.

Olympic organizers in Salt Lake City are predicting two main problems will plague the upcoming 2002 Winter Games - traffic jams and computer trouble.

During their final video conference with the International Olympic Committee's executive board Thursday, the organizers warned of potential trouble in the two areas that have also hit recent editions of the Olympics. Bad weather likely will combine with heavy traffic to create delays on the steep highway that climbs from Salt Lake City to Park City. Organizers are most concerned about highway conditions on February 12, the busiest day of the Olympics.

The U.S. federal government has contributed more than $100 million to build park-and-ride lots near Olympic venues and bring hundreds of extra transit buses and drivers to Salt Lake City. Still, organizers expect more than 80-percent of Olympic spectators to drive their own cars, clogging the roadways. Olympic organizers are also working to perfect a lightning-fast computer network to instantly calculate the times and scores of athletes at 10 venues and provide those statistics instantly around the globe. But the system showed signs of trouble during three days of simulated Olympic competition in October.