IRELAND RE-INVITES RP SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEAMDublin, Ireland, May 22, 2003 -- The Irish government has withdrawn its request for the Philippines to stay away from the Special Olympics because of the alert over the pneumonia-like disease, Sars.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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