Seventy countries, regions intend to compete at 1998 Winter Olympics
TOKYO (AP) _ A total of 70 countries, regions and territories, including reclusive North Korea, have said they intend to participate in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, organizers said today.
The entities voicing their intention to participate were included in a list sent late Thursday from the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, to organizers in Nagano, said Kazuyoshi Okaniwa, an official with the Nagano organizing committee.
The list of participants exceeds by three the number of actual participants at the previous games in Lillehammer, Norway, held in 1994. The final number could end up being more than 70 since the deadline for acceptance of entries is June 7.
Prior to the Lillehamer games about 80 countries and areas had expressed their intention to participate, Okaniwa said.
North Korea last sent a winter team to the 1992 games at Albertville, France. North Korea’s rival, South Korea, was also on the list to compete at Nagano.
Perennial Winter Olympics participants Switzerland and Italy had yet to announce their intention to compete, Okaniwa said.
Okaniwa said delegations don’t have to notify the IOC of the number of athletes they plan to send until Dec. 1 and their names until Jan. 26.
Nagano, located in central Japan, is the first Asian city to host the Winter Olympics since the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan. The games begin next Feb. 7.
Japan became the first Asian host for an Olympics when Tokyo staged the summer games in 1964.