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Olympics to be the biggest ever

24/07/2003 05:16:12 AM Comments (0)

A record 201 countries will compete in the 2004 Athens Olympics -- two more than at the 2000 Sydney Games, organisers said.

Newly-recognised Olympic countries East Timor, granted independence from Indonesia in 2002, and Kiribati, a scattered central Pacific atoll nation, make their Games' debuts.

Afghanistan, suspended in 1999 for the Taliban ban on women, returns for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games after the International Olympic Committee lifted the ban in June.

Athens Games organisers said Iraq, which competed in Sydney, might be included if approved by the IOC. The Iraq national Olympic committee was chaired by Saddam Hussein's younger son Uday who was killed by US forces on Tuesday.

IOC officials are in Baghdad to work out whether Iraq's athletes could compete at Athens under Iraq colours or under the IOC flag.

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