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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
IOC to ban no-hopers
Eric Moussambani ploughs through the water in the 2000 Olympics
Moussambani barely managed to reach the end of the pool in Sydney
The days when the likes of Eddie the Eagle and Eric the Eel became Olympic stars may be numbered.

Despite their massive popularity, International Olympic Committee (IOC) boss Jacques Rogge wants to stop inept athletes from competing because he believes they are making a mockery of the competition.

Rogge wants to abolish the wild card system, which allows smaller, unsuccessful countries to send athletes to compete even if they are well below the standard required to qualify for the Games.

It was the dire performance of Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, who struggled to finish a 100m swimming heat in the 2000 Olympics, which has prompted Rogge to try to clamp down.

"We want to avoid what happened in the swimming in Sydney," Rogge told the Guardian newspaper.

"The public loved it, but I did not like it.

This is the final nail in the coffin of the Olympic ideal
Olympic legend
Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards

"The Olympic Games are a mixture of pure quality - that is, the best athletes in the world, and at the same time athletes of lesser quality who achieve universality.

"In the past we made the error to select these athletes at the last moment.

"A country would say 'we have no qualified athletes, can we bring in a wild card?' And these athletes were not good enough."

Ski-jumper Edwards, who was the star of the show at the 1988 Winter Games, was far from impressed by Rogge's plans.

"This is the final nail in the coffin of the Olympic ideal, which has slowly been eroded for a while," he said.

"The public enjoy watching these people. They make the Games more human and interesting.

"It is going against the grain of the Olympics to deprive people who are the best in their country at a particular sport of the opportunity of taking part."




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