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Algeria Secures Olympics Berth in Fencing

June 9, 2004

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ The Algerian men’s saber team will compete in the Athens Olympics after fencing’s international governing body realized it had mistakenly offered a vacant spot to Germany.

A spokesman for the FIE, fencing’s ruling organization, said Wednesday that Germany originally was offered the chance to compete after Egypt withdrew its team last week, as Germany was the next highest-ranked country.

``Then there was a mistake within our systems,″ said Jochen Faerber. ``We looked at the world ranking but did not see another African team.″

According to FIE rules, vacant qualifying spots should go to a team from the same continent as the country that pulls out. Algeria does not have a current ranking and so was not considered, but FIE later realized the cutoff date for Olympic qualifying was March 31, when Algeria did appear in the rankings.

``We finally got the confirmation from Algeria,″ Faerber said. ``Then we had to inform Germany.″

The German team is now consulting lawyers to check whether it can appeal the decision.

``It’s a bit of a sensitive subject and shouldn’t happen,″ Faerber added. ``It’s disappointing and we apologize very much.″

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