POSTED: October 7th 2010

Rogge secures 'free travel' review from Israel's President and Prime Minister

Travel troubles: Palestine's Gaza-based players Mohammed Shbaier (left) and Eyad Abu Gargoul / lake images
Travel troubles: Palestine's Gaza-based players Mohammed Shbaier (left) and Eyad Abu Gargoul / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/LAUSANNE, Oct 08: IOC president Jacques Rogge wrapped up his triple-track Middle East visit with promises that the Israeli government would review travel restrictions which upset their Palestinian neighbours.

Rogge visited Jordan and Palestine before concluding the mission in Israel between Wednesday and Friday. On the West Bank he heard at first hand from Palestinian Olympic Committee directors of the problems faced by its athletes not only travelling abroad but even between Gaza and the West Bank.

Subsquently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Rogge in a telephone conversation on that he would work to ease travel constraints. That pledge was echoed in direct discussions with Rogge by the Israeli President Shimon Peres who, according to the IOC, offered his constructive cooperation to find solutions.

Bezaz Moussa, coach of the Palestine national team, is on the record as complaining that he has to select 30 players for every match - even home games - because he never knows how many will be refused travel permits by the Israeli authorities.

Jordan visit

In the Jordanian capital, Amman, Rogge met various NOC members including Prince Feisal Al Hussein, local NOC President and IOC member, and was received by King Abdullah II.  The President and his delegation flew to Ramallah in the West Bank, where they visited a refugee camp before meeting the president of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Jibril Rajoub, and the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.

Rogge also attended a football match between the Palestinian and Jordanian Olympic teams, which Palestine won 2-0.

In Israel Rogge met members of the Israeli NOC, including its President, Zvi Varshaviak.  Later the IOC confirmed that representatives of the Palestinian and Israeli NOCs had all responded positively to Rogge's invitation that they meet in Lausanne later this year to tackle the issue of  free movement of athletes and sporting goods.

The IOC delegation included IOC vice-president Mario Pescante and IOC members Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, Olympic champions Nawal El Moutawakel and Hicham El Guerrouj, Alex Gilady as well as Sheik Talal Al-Sabah from the executive committee of the Olympic Council of Asia.

Keywords · Rogge · IOC · Palestine · Jordan · Peres · Netanyahu

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