CAIALGARY, Alberta, Can.: More athletes than expected look set to compete in next month’s Winter Olympics, the Board of Directors were told.

Organizers anticipated an early estimate of around 2,600 competitors excluding those entered in exhibition and demonstration sports to be trimmed by as much as 25 per cent by the time the Games opened.

But the original figure remains unchanged 21 days from the opening ceremony, the organizing committee’s final board of directors’ meeting prior to the Games heard on Friday.

“It’s going to be a tight squeeze at the athletes’ village but we’ll cope,” Bill France, the organizing committee’s vice-President of sports told Reuters.

France said the total number of athletes and officials could top 3,000 if those competing in the disabled, exhibition and demonstration events were taken into account.

Organizers had been told to expect a final figure of around 2,000 athletes and had planned accordingly, organizing committee President Bill Pratt told the meeting.

“We were told traditionally there’s around a 25 per cent drop in numbers but that hasn’t happened this time”, he said.

“We face some problems because of that but nothing we can’t overcome.

“We used tradition as best as we could but tradition is not standing up for us”, he said.

“Whether it is the strength of these games, whether it is Calgary, whether it’s Canada J don’t know. But the reduction hasn’t happened”,

If numbers remain unchanged, one problem is sure to arise at the opening ceremony on February 13.

Organizers are allowing only 2,000 athletes and officials from the 59 teams entered in the games to march in the ceremony on the infield of MeMahon Stadium.

For the first time ever in Olympic opening ceremony some of the counties will be forced to sit out.

“IT’s up to the teams to decide who marches and who doesn’t”. Pratt said.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 29, 1988