For Israelis, Competition From Yom Kippur

Posted: September 15, 1988

The Israeli Olympic team has given up its best chance for a medal because athletes and officials refuse to compete on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, the team's coach said yesterday.

The five-member fencing team - including Udi Karmi, who finished fourth in the floret in last year's world championships - are not at the Olympics

because they would have been required to compete on Sept. 21, said Itzchak Benmelech, the Israeli head coach.

"They are very disappointed," Benmelech said. "They worked hard for four years, but it was impossible."

"They are the best athletes in Israel. They were our best hope for a medal."

Benmelech said Israel never considered breaking from tradition and competing on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion.

The scheduling conflict also has caused problems for Israel's gymnastics, shooting and yachting teams.

The athletes must decide whether to risk harming their chances by going without food on the traditional day of fasting from sunset on Sept. 20 until sunset the next day.

Benmelech said the decision is up to each competitor.

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A recurring knee injury is threatening world champion gymnast Aurelia Dobre's bid for a gold medal.

The 15-year-old Romanian has been appearing at the Gymnastics Hall in Seoul with her knee and ankle bandaged.

Dobre suffered a knee injury in the 1986 European Junior Championships. After a series of operations and four months of convalescence, she returned to training.

In her latest workout in Seoul, she failed to show the dazzling form she displayed to help her team capture the title from the Soviet Union in the World Championships at Rotterdam last October.

Physicians at the Olympic Village Medical Center report that they are seeing an average of 200 athletes daily.

Most are seeking treatment of minor injuries they have sustained during training. Several who were suffering from more serious ailments were referred to outside hospitals for admission.

American yachtsman Gary Knapp suffered a separated shoulder in a bicycle accident in the port city of Pusan and will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games. Knapp, an alternate, would have competed only as a replacement.

The sailor was brought to Seoul for treatment but is expected to return to Pusan in time to watch the regatta, starting Sept. 20.

The Soviet delegation has opened an exclusive club within the Olympic Village. Soviet sports officials and athletes enjoy pop music, movies and other entertainment at the new facility. Also available are 500 novels and 100 VCR tapes.

Rower Dave Krmpotich of Philadelphia was selected by team captains to represent the United States in the torch relay.

Sohn Kee Chung, a South Korean hero and the winner of the 1936 Olympic marathon, will run the last lap of the torch relay. He will hand the torch to three Korean youths, who will light the Olympic flame.

John Thompson's U.S. basketball team held an open practice yesterday, matching the policy of the Soviet Union. Thompson's team was to have moved out of the Hyatt Regency and into the Olympic Village.

Greg Louganis left open the possibility that he may compete in the 1992 Barcelona Games. If the 1-meter springboard is included in the Games, the four-time gold medalist may be there.

More than 2,000 plainclothes security personnel were scattered throughout the Olympic Stadium before yesterday's public rehearsal of the opening ceremonies.

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