The State of New York's highest court dismissed today an appeal by Taiwanese cross-country skier Liang Ren-guey that he be allowed to compete in the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid under the flag and anthem of the Republic of China.
In a brief decision issued on the eve of the formal opening of the Games, the court of appeals said it was "persuaded that the courts of our state must refrain from the exercise of jurisdiction to resolve a dispute which has at its core the international 'two-Chinas' problem."
The unanimous opinon upheld a ruling by the appellate division Monday.
It also clears the way for the first team from mainland China since the 1949 Communist revolution to participate in the Olympics.
At issue was an International Olympic Committee rule adopted last year requiring that the team from Taiwan not compete under the flag and anthem of the Republic of China.
That rule was aimed at bringing in the mainland Chiinese, who have refused to compete with another team claiming to represent China.
While the issue made its way past the judges, athletes from China and Taiwan were waiting at Lake Placid -- the Chinese training at the official Olympic village and the Official Olympic sites, the eight Taiwanese staying in a motel and exercising in the parking lot.
The first events for both teams were not scheduled until Wednesday.
The case is the latest twist in the 31-year dispute between the governments on the Chinese mainland and true China. Both have used the Olympics as one more forum for that fight, and since 1949 only teams from Taiwan have represented China in the Games.
But the Taiwan delegation was denied admission to Canada for the 1976 Summer Olympics at Montreal, and this fall the IOC, as a compromise, dropped its longstanding willingness to allow Taiwan to compete as the Republic of China.
Instead, the new rule said, the Chinese could compete under the name of the People's Republic of China, and the athletes from Taiwan under the name of the "Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee."