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Taiwanese Spectators Arrested

Thursday, August 1, 1996 4:30 pm EDT

ATLANTA (AP) -- Two Olympic table tennis spectators were arrested for fighting with police who tried to remove one of them from the stands for waving a banned flag from Taiwan.

Police said Chen Kun Chung and Lee Chien Hsing were taken into custody during Wednesday night's gold-medal match between China's Deng Yaping and Taiwan's Chen Jing.

Although Taiwan competes in the games, it does so under a different flag in a long-established agreement to placate China. Fans are prohibited from carrying any flags other than those of participating countries into the stands.

Security guards called police to remove Chen after he started waving the Taiwan flag. International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Michele Verdier said she did not know who had pointed the flag out to the guards.

While officers were trying to remove Chen, Lee climbed over three or four rows, struck one officer in the mouth and pulled the officer down over some seats, said Bill Wells, a spokesman for the State Olympic Law Enforcement Command.

Chen, charged with disorderly conduct, was fined $100 after pleading no contest, Wells said. Lee was charged with one count of simple battery and one count of felony obstruction of an officer. His case was transferred to Superior Court.

Taiwan competes in the Olympics under the name Chinese Taipei and the flag of its national Olympic committee, a political compromise reached 17 years ago to allow athletes from the Chinese mainland and the small offshore island nation to compete side by side.

If a Taiwanese athlete should win a gold medal, the Taiwanese Olympic flag would be raised but the Olympic anthem of the IOC would be played.

Fans, who have flooded the stands at the Atlanta Games with the American flag, are barred from bringing ``flags other than those of participating countries'' to venues, according to restrictions printed in minuscule type on the back of tickets. Taiwan technically is not participating.

Police also arrested a Spanish photographer in a separate fight with security guards Wednesday at the Georgia World Congress Center, where table tennis and five other events are held.

Rogelio Rengel Ros, who works for Don Balon, a weekly soccer magazine in Spain, tried several times to enter a restricted area and ignored a security guard's order to leave the building, Wells said.

He said Ros then pushed past the guard, who called police. When a police officer tried to remove Ros, he became verbally abusive and struck the officer in the chest, Wells said.

Ros was taken to court, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $553.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games said it revoke Ros' media credential over the incident.

© Copyright 1996 The Associated Press

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