The West German and East German Olympic teams will merge soon. The Baltic republics want to form squads separate from the Soviet team. South Africa seeks an Olympic reprieve.

These are the best of times for Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, a former ambassador of Spain to Moscow, is back in his element. After fading into the background following the 1988 Olympics, his globetrotting sports diplomacy has resumed.

"At this time, we are quite relaxed," Samaranch said in an interview yesterday in Berlin after being briefed by East and West German Olympic officials about progress toward a merger.

The freeing of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela and other moves by the South African government have led to talks on the possible readmittance of that country to the Olympic movement, from which it has been barred since 1970.

Samaranch, who will meet with Soviet and Baltic officials in Lausanne in late August, said separate Baltic teams are not possible for the 1992 Olympics.

In conclusion, he said his satisfaction with recent events has been tempered by the Middle East situation. "There are many good things," he said, "but something else is going on in the world that we are very worried about -- the situation in Kuwait."