The movement to readmit South Africa into the international sports scene is too hasty, three senior officials of the South African Amateur Athletic Board say.
"The people of South Africa will be the best ones to say when the sports moratorium should be lifted," William Legolie, a former sprinter and long jumper and now head of the SAAAB's coaches association, said Tuesday during a press conference at Columbia University."The time to be in the Olympic movement is not right. It is too fast."
It's not right, the officials said, because the political climate is not right. And they said it probably would not be right until the 1996 Olympics.
Legolie said South Africa was "excited about getting back into the Olympic movement," but it should wait until the government proved that apartheid, or racial separation, was completely eliminated, rather than just saying it will be.
Cedric van Wyk, a one-time shot putter, discus thrower and javelin thrower and presently a senior administrator of the SAAAB, agreed with Legolie.
"We are categorically against South Africa getting back into international sports in the next five years," he said, "because 90 percent of the population has been deprived of participation."
"There is hardly any sponsorship and no incentives for our athletes," Legolie said. "We have only one track meeting during the year that has sponsorship. If there is incentive for an athlete, he performs well.
"Although we are relieved about the apartheid ruling, how do we know it's going to be put into practice?"
White athletes, the officials said, have much greater incentives, receiving big bonuses if they set national or world records. For example, they mentioned Tom Petranoff, the U.S. record-holder in the javelin who now is living and competing in South Africa. If Petranoff breaks the world record, he would receive a huge bonus, they said.
"We can't offer that to them (the blacks)," Legolie said. "And we don't have that expertise for our athletes."
The third administrator, Allan Zinn, a former middle-distance runner, had the same feelings as his colleagues.
"What would it be like going to the Olympics and running for your country but not being able to choose your political representatives?" Zinn, an SAAAB vice president and a student at Columbia, said. "We see many problems that have to be resolved."
"We have a commitment only" regarding the abolishment of apartheid, Zinn said. "But we have to see that the political movement in our country doesn't use it for selling out" the black athletes.
The three said that if South Africa was permitted back into the international sports arena, it would defeat the purpose of the boycott currently imposed on the country.
South Africa appeared to move closer to rejoining the world sports community Monday when its parliament voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Population Registration Act of 1950, which served as the foundation for virtually all apartheid measures. It was the last of three major apartheid laws whose repeal had been demanded by the International Olympic Committee and other world sports bodies.
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had said the repeal of the act would be welcome.
Following the repeal, a spokeswoman for the International Amateur Athletic Federation said an IAAF delegation would visit South Africa next month to appraise the situation and possibly recommend lifting the nation's suspension from international track and field. The formal lifting could take place at the IAAF Congress Aug. 20-21, a couple of days before the World Championships in Tokyo.
And South African politicians were so confident of readmission to world sports that mayors of three of the country's biggest cities - Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban - already have announced they want to play host to the Summer Olympics in 2000 or 2004.