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Wednesday, November 12, 1997 Published at 17:02 GMT


Ski row heading for agreement

The organisers of Japan's Winter Olympics in Nagano are set to offer a compromise to end a four-year row over the length of the men's downhill skiing course.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) is demanding the start of the downhill course be raised by 120 metres (386 feet) to extend the run. Nagano organisers say the move would encroach into a national park.

The federation has asked the Nagano Organizing Committee to raise the start of alpine skiing's premier event from the current 1,680 metres (5,554 feet) above sea level to 1,800 metres (5,940 feet).

The organizing committee had persistently rejected requests for a higher start, saying it would encroach on the protected national park on Mount Karamatsu in the ski resort of Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture.

It says no structure can be built in the park under Japan's environmental law, although the FIS points out that 600,000 recreational skiers use the area every year.

As a compromise, the organisers are offering to raise the start gate to 1,740 metres (5,742 feet) for the February 7-22 event, according to committtee sources.

The new start would apparently not encroach into the protected national park.

Committee officials are meeting the Ski Association of Japan and the Japan Olympic Committee in private in Tokyo to discuss the offer and will make an official announcement on November 20.

Both the Japanese ski association and the Olympic committee back the FIS demand for a longer course.

The Asahi Evening News quoted FIS president Marc Hodler as saying he would accept the compromise proposal as a "wonderful solution".

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