Cyprus defeats Olympic Flame

NICOSIA (AFP) – The Olympic spirit came a cropper in Cyprus yesterday with today’s planned crossing of the Olympic Flame into the Turkish-occupied north being called off. «I have been informed by the Athens 2004 Olympic Committee that the flame will not be passing through the occupied areas. I don’t know what the reasons are yet,» said Cyprus Olympic Committee chairman Kikis Lazarides. The marketing manager of Athens 2004, George Bolos, did not elucidate. «Our proposal was not accepted by the Turkish Cypriots and… it’s too late to make changes to the program,» he said. «The conditions we set out were no different than those given to any other city the Olympic Flame has traveled to across the world.» Reports suggested negotiations between the Turkish Cypriots and Athens broke down when officials in the north wanted to hold an official torch-lighting ceremony as in internationally recognized countries. Senior Turkish-Cypriot sports official Ozkan Yorgancioglu blamed the «racist and fascist» Cypriot government.