IRELAND RE-INVITES RP SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEAM

Dublin, Ireland, May 22, 2003 -- The Irish government has withdrawn its 
request for the Philippines to stay away from the Special Olympics because 
of the alert over the pneumonia-like disease, Sars.

Last Friday, Health Minister Micheal Martin asked competitors from China, 
Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines, which have all had 
substantial outbreaks of Sars, not to travel to Ireland for the event.

The Department of Health in Dublin said on Wednesday that the Filipino team 
was now welcome to come.

The decision followed the World Health Organization's removal of the 
Philippines from the list of states affected by the Sars virus.

Cities and towns in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland are hosting 
7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches and 28,000 delegates for the summer games, 
which have never before been held outside the United States.

They take place on 20-29 June and have been described as the largest 
sporting event of 2003.

The World Health Organization had criticized the decision to request the 
countries not to attend, describing it as inconsistent with the latest 
guidelines for controlling attendances at large events.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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