American athletes threatened to boycott the Olympic opening ceremonies if the whole team wasn't allowed to march in the parade, but officials swiftly ended the flap with a welcome to everyone.
The jolt to the Olympic spirit hit Tuesday along with reports of Soviet gymnasts spying on Romanians, a new excuse for a steroid scandal among the Canadians and last-minute moves by boycotting Cuba to join the Games.The International Olympic Committee and the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee wanted to speed up Saturday's ceremonies by limiting participation to 8,000 athletes, coaches and officials, and leaving out more than 5,000 athletes.
Within hours of a threat by American athletes to boycott the ceremonies if they all couldn't participate, SLOOC issued a statement saying, "Any athlete who wants to take part in the parade and ceremonies can do so. It is their right."
The cutback would have affected all countries with more than 30 team members. Medium-sized teams would have been trimmed by a third, while the largest delegations, such as the United States, Soviet Union, China and host South Korea would have been limited to 42-44 percent of their total.
Only about 300 of the 800-member American delegation would have been allowed to join the ceremonies, a prospect that angered and disappointed many American athletes.
Evie G. Dennis, chief of the U.S. mission, said the restrictions were not acceptable and were resented by the athletes.
"Every American who has a right to compete here feels that the chance to march in the opening ceremonies is the culimination of the Olympic dream itself," said Mike Moran, spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Volleyball player Robert Partie said the ceremony is a big part of the Games. "We've been looking forward to doing it and it would be a shame if it didn't work out," he said.
British chief of mission Dick Palmer said his country sympathized with efforts to speed up the parade, and would encourage some of the athletes to watch from the stands.
However, Australia's assistant team manager, John Boultbee, said his nation's delegation of more than 400 people would ignore restrictions.
"We're not making a fuss," he said. "We're just going to march."
Meanwhile, Cuba, which has supported the boycott by North Korea, may try to compete in a nominal way to avoid sanctions from the International Olympic Committee, according to a top South Korean Olympic officials quoted in the Korea Herald.
Cuba is worried that if it boycotts the Olympics it may be denied the right to stage the 1991 Pan American Games, the official said.
The boycott has been ignored by most other North Korean allies, including the Soviet Union and China.
Soviet gymnasts are focusing on their Romanian rivals, with an eye especially on recapturing the Olympic women's team championship they won at every Summer Games since 1952 except for the boycotted Los Angeles Games in 1984.
Romania went to Los Angeles and won the gold, then stunned the Soviets at the world championships last October by winning the women's title again.
The Soviets have come here with a particular grudge to settle against their rather independent comrades.
"We are most determined and very confident that we will win both the team and all-around gold medals," says Lioubov Miromanova, one of the Soviet coaches.
You bet they are, especially after sneaking a peak at the Romanian team practice. Among those watching was Soviet gold medal favorite Elena Shushunova, the 1985 world champion dethroned by Romanian Aurelia Dobre in 1987.
When the Romanians spotted the Soviets scouting them at the Gymnastics Hall, the Romanians ordered their athletes off the uneven bars. Feeling the Romanians' hostility, the Soviets left the gym. The Romanians then resumed their workout.
A day after Canadian weightlifter Kevin Roy was sent home following a positive test for steroids, the leader of the team tried to explain why Canadians are more likely to be caught using banned drugs.
Yvon Chouinard said the four athletes dropped after testing positive for anabolic steroids - three were left in Canada last week - probably took the banned drugs because they were having difficulty meeting the Canadian Olympic Association's standard to make the team.