WEST BERLIN, JULY 4 -- The two Germanys moved today to combine their national teams in time to compete in the 1992 Olympics and to apply to be host of the Summer Games in 2000 or 2004.
After the first joint meeting of the East and West German Olympic committees, West German committee president Willi Daume said the groups will merge in the next few months and then file an application to hold the Games in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
The Games were last held in Germany in 1936, when Adolf Hitler tried to turn the events at the Berlin Stadium into a demonstration of Aryan racial supremacy, only to be frustrated by the victories of black U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens.
A reunited Germany hopes to sell the International Olympic Committee on the idea of Berlin as a symbol of peaceful change and a reunified Europe. The last time a unified German team participated in the Olympics was 1964.
Daume and his East German counterpart, Joachim Weiskopf, said the German committees must merge quickly because the once-vaunted East German sports system is in a state of near-collapse in the eight months since the fall of the country's Communist regime.
"We might even beat the politicians to" unification, Weiskopf told Reuter. "But that is not the important point. We must secure the future of our athletes."
In the months after last fall's revolution, many top East German athletes approached the West Germans about joining their team. More recently, West German coaches have been studying East German training centers, planning the merger.
By announcing their plans now, the committees hope to allay the fears of East German athletes, who have watched their heavily subsidized training schools falter.
But the merger is likely to pose a new threat to West German athletes, many of whom fear they may lose their places on national teams to East Germans.
The committees plan to begin joint training this year in preparation for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and the Summer Games in Barcelona.