LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND, JAN. 18 -- Although North Korea and Cuba say they will not come to the Seoul Olympics this summer, the International Olympic Committee is keeping the door open for them, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said today.
Samaranch hopes to get the Soviet Union -- which has said it will compete in Seoul -- to pressure the North Koreans and Cubans, and Nicaraguans, the other holdouts.
He hopes to meet Soviet Foreign Minister Edouard Shevardnadze in Madrid "within the next two days" and to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev "a short while" later.
"I want to enlist their help to make sure that the participation in Seoul is truly universal."
Already, he said, the record 161 countries that have accepted the IOC's invitation to the Games. Aside from Cuba, North Korea and Nicaragua, the only other countries that have not replied to the IOC's invitation to Seoul are Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Albania.
North Korea, which has been embroiled in a dispute with the IOC over its claim that the Games should be shared between North and South Korea, has said that it will not participate because its conditions have not been met -- but has not formally communicated this decision to the IOC. Cuba, in a letter from President Fidel Castro to Samaranch, has said its athletes will stay home "as a gesture of solidarity" with North Korea.
Nicaragua, in a letter from national Olympic committee President Moises Hassan Morales to Samaranch released today, said it will not participate because of "the war of aggression waged by the predominant power of the region," because the Nicaraguan baseball team lost at last summer's Pan American games and because the country's best shot putter was disqualified from the same Games.