The president of the International Olympic Committee said yesterday it is possible South Africa will be back in the Olympic Games as early as 1992.

"The finishing line is getting nearer" for South Africa's return to international sports, Juan Antonio Samaranch said in Stockholm during the opening ceremonies of the fourth International Conference Against Apartheid in Sport.

South Africa has been banned from the Olympics since 1970 because of its policies of racial separation.

"Maybe 1992 is too early, but if they solve the problems, it's possible," Samaranch said. "Something important is happening for the first time in South Africa. We hope it's the beginning of the end {of apartheid}."

Samaranch said that the solution to the problem must originate within Africa and that the IOC would not move to end South Africa's isolation from international sports until black African sports leaders approve.

Jean-Claude Ganga, head of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, said sports officials from South Africa and black African nations will hold formal talks for the first time in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 3-4. . . .

Malaysia has opposed any attempt to bar Iraq from the Asian Games, South Korea will avoid the issue and host China still is mulling its position, officials said yesterday.

Several Arab countries have threatened to boycott the games if Iraq competes, an official of the Olympic Council of Asia said last week.

But Hamzah Abu Samah, president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, said politics should not be allowed to interfere with the Games.