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26 May 2000
IOC News , Press Release


Rio de Janeiro, 26 May 2000 - Decision by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee
(hereafter "IOC") in re:
Appeal filed by the South African Hockey Association (hereafter "SAHA")
through the International Hockey Federation (hereafter "FIH")
"against the decision of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa
(hereafter "NOCSA") to exclude the South Africa men's hockey team
from entry to the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney"
(Rule 49,§3 of the Olympic Charter)

1. In accordance with the FIH's qualification system, the South Africa men's hockey team participated in the qualifying tournament for the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney 2000 – the 7th All Africa Games in Johannesburg in 1999 – which it won. On 20 May 1999, well in advance of the qualifying tournament, NOCSA had informed FIH that if South Africa were to qualify, NOCSA would consider selection according to its own policy.

2. On 9 February 2000, NOCSA informed SAHA and FIH that it had decided to select the women's hockey team for the Sydney Olympic Games, but not the men's hockey team (hereafter "the NOCSA decision").

3. In accordance with Rule 49, §3 of the Olympic Charter, SAHA, through the FIH, appealed to the IOC Executive Board against the NOCSA decision (hereafter "the SAHA appeal). All parties have stated and developed their arguments in writing. Their briefs are attached hereto. SAHA and NOCSA appeared in front of the IOC Executive Board on 24 May 2000; FIH declined to do so, whilst declaring its support of SAHA's appeal.

4. Rule 31, §3 of the Olympic Charter states the following: "The NOCs have the exclusive powers for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games and at the regional, continental or world multi-sports competitions patronized by the IOC. In addition, each NOC is obliged to participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes."
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5. The IOC Executive Board considers that the principle established in Rule 31, §3 of the Olympic Charter is of such importance that a decision by a NOC may only be reversed if a fundamental principle or a mandatory rule of the Olympic Charter is violated by such decision.

6. In this instance, notwithstanding certain allegations or motivations invoked by the parties, the IOC Executive Board has noted, after considering the written arguments filed by all parties and after having heard the representatives of both SAHA and NOCSA, that, in the final analysis, the determining ground for NOCSA's decision was that the latter was not satisfied that the South Africa men's hockey team would be ranked at least ninth at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in accordance with the NOCSA Guidelines of 16 May 1998 for the selection of the South African Olympic team to compete in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Thus, it appears that the determining ground for the NOCSA decision results from sport considerations.

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7. Under such circumstances, whilst expressing its sympathy to the athletes who were not selected, the IOC Executive Board nevertheless considers that the decision taken by NOCSA does not exceed the limits of its authority and shall not be annulled.

In view of the above, the IOC Executive Board has decided the following in accordance with Rule 49, §3 of the Olympic Charter:

I. The SAHA appeal is rejected.
II. The NOCSA decision is confirmed.
III. The present decision shall be notified by fax to SAHA, FIH and NOCSA.

Rio de Janeiro, 26 May 2000

On behalf of the IOC Executive Board

Juan Antonio Samaranch
François Carrard

Director General

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