Activists press for more women

Women’s rights activists outlined plans yesterday to pressure the International Olympic Committee and Athens organizers to promote the participation of female athletes from all countries in the August Games. Anna Karamanou, the Greek head of the European Union’s committee for women’s rights, said the goal is to seek the IOC’s influence on countries that ban «women athletes from the Olympic Games because of outdated thoughts and religious traditions.» A Paris-based women’s group called «Atlanta, Sydney, Athens Plus» is leading the effort. Some countries which did not bring women to the Sydney 2000 Olympics included Brunei, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. «They have women in their countries or don’t they? Where are they?» said Annie Sugier, a representative of the group, named for the three most recent Summer Olympic cities. Sugier urged an Olympic boycott against countries that do not allow female athletes. If a country has no women Olympic-caliber athletes, then women should participate in the opening ceremony, Sugier suggested. The IOC said it has not been formally approached by the activists. But the IOC has been trying to get more women to participate in each Games by working with various national Olympic committees. «Athens 2004 fully supports and encourages the participation of women athletes in the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games,» said Seraphim Kotrotsos, spokesman of the organizing committee for the August 13-29 Games. (AP)

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