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May 9, 1992

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ World hockey grew bigger Saturday as 10 new members, including seven former Soviet republics, were admitted into the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The federation, ending a four-day congress at the World Hockey Championships, now has 49 members worldwide.

The former Soviet republics joining the IIHF are the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Azerbaijan, Belorus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Croatia and Slovenia, two former Yugoslavian republics, and Iceland were also admitted.

Russia became a member earlier this year and was allowed to play as the Unified Team in the Winter Olympics in February after an agreement with the International Olympic Committee.

All new members will start world championship play from scratch in the lowest level ″because it wouldn’t be fair to let them start in Group B,″ said Jan-Ake Edvinsson of Sweden, secretary general of the IHHF.

Latvia has perhaps the most talent among the new members. As an independent nation before World War II, Latvia played in six World Championships and one Winter Olympics (1936).

Dynamo Riga became one of the best teams in the Soviet League after Latvia was incorporated into the USSR following World War II.

Meanwhile, the IHHF said it has postponed plans to start a European Hockey League for at least another season.

Gunther Sabetzki, the IIHF president, presented a detailed plan for a 12- team league in Paris last September. But Sweden, which has the top domestic league in Europe, and Finland criticized the plan.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Postal Service will highlight Olympic Spirit Week beginning Monday when more than 28,000 post offices receive a piece of a giant postcard that eventually will wish good luck to American Olympic athletes.

For $1, customers and employees can sign the postcard piece and receive two personal postcards, addressed ″Go Team USA,″ which are replicas of the giant postcard. The personal postcards will be delivered to U.S. athletes each day during the Summer Olympics at Barcelona.

The full giant postcard, when it is assembled and unveiled on July 12, will be the size of three football fields.

Seventy percent of the proceeds from the program will go to the U.S. Olympic team.

″This giant postcard will symbolize the depth of the emotional and financial support for our Olympians that comes from every American community,″ said assistant postmaster general Deborak K. Bowker. ″And on July 12, the world will see this tribute come together in the shadow of the Washington Monument in a salute to Team USA.″

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TOKYO (AP) - A two-run single by Greg ″Boomer″ Wells helped the Fukuoka Daeiei Hawks beat the Orki Blue Wave 6-3 on Saturday. It helped Katsuyoshi Murata (5-0) pitch his fifth straight complete-game victory.

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SANTANDER, Spain (AP) - Roberto Torres of Spain won the 13th leg of the 21- day Tour of Spain cycling race Saturday over a 110.4-mile semi-mountainous route from Burgos to Santander on the Atlantic.

Jesus Montoya, also of Spain, retained the overall lead.

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TORONTO (AP) - The much-delayed sale of the Toronto SkyDome will close by July 15, or not at all, says a Toronto newspaper.

The Ontario government and the potential buyers, who have been negotiating a deal since the fall of 1990, set the deadline in a meeting this week.

″If we don’t do it by July 15) I think it will all be over - we’ll have to admit it just isn’t doable,″ a source told the Toronto Sun on Friday.

Paul Morton, chairman of Stadco, the provincial corporation that owns SkyDome, confirmed the July 15 deadline but added he’s confident the sale will happen.

″I’ve seen nothing that will change my mind,″ Morton said

The negotiations have been beset by lawsuits, and complex legal and financial issues that must resolved before the province can unload the $580 million stadium, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Built with a combination of private sector and government funding, the SkyDome has been making a profit but not enough to pay interest on construction loans of about $370 million.

Last November, a consortium of eight corporations, most members of the original group of 30 companies that helped build the stadium, announced a tentative deal to buy the facility.

But the deal failed to materialize at the end of a 90-day ″due diligence″ period. Imperial Oil Ltd. has since left the consortium and George Taylor, president of Stadium Acquisition Inc., said a second member will also drop out. He would not name the company.

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