More officials may be barred from Games

More officials may be barred from Games

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
More officials may be barred from Games

London Mayor Boris Johnson (L) and LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe stand on a boat under Tower Bridge after the the Olympic Rings were lowered into position. REUTERS photo

Giant Olympic rings were unveiled on London’s Tower Bridge yesterday to mark one month to go until the 2012 Olympics, as a minister said he expected more officials would be banned from the Games.

The rings, which weigh three tonnes, were lowered into place on the landmark on the River Thames as the chief organizer of the London Games, Sebastian Coe, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson looked on.

Preparations for the Games took another step forward when the main press center officially opened at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Meanwhile, Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said he expected the government would bar more officials from attending the Games, following the decision to refuse the head of the Syrian Olympic Committee a visa to travel to London.

General Mowaffak Joumaa’s application was refused due to his links to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has launched a bloody crackdown on protests.

“There is an EU banned list, there is a UN banned list, anybody who is on that will not be allowed to enter the country,” Robertson told BBC radio.

“Beyond that we have a committee that looks at every application on its own merits. Any that are controversial are referred to the Foreign Office, the Home Office and myself as sports minister and we take decisions on a case-to-case basis.

“I do expect further referrals (to the committee). If people apply for visas from countries that have connections with regimes that are guilty of human rights abuses they will not be allowed in.” Robertson also said he was “not very” concerned that Argentina would try to disrupt the Olympics in its dispute with Britain over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

President Cristina Kirchner pledged that Argentina would keep politics out of sports at the Games as she waved off the Argentinian team at a ceremony. “They are expecting some sort of foolishness from us, but we do not mix such things,” Kirchner told the team.