|Wednesday, January 14
Jordan had first rejected participation
AMMAN, Jordan -- Israel's fencing team will compete in a World Cup foil event in Aqaba, an Israeli official in Jordan said Wednesday.
Jordan had earlier banned the Israelis from competing in the five-day event because Arab states might boycott.
"The Israeli side received confirmation from the Jordan Fencing Federation that the Israeli team can participate in the tournament," the Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.
The Jordan Fencing Federation could not immediately be reached to confirm Israel's participation in the competition, which is due to start Thursday in the Red Sea port of Aqaba.
Federation president Khaled Atiyat said Israel had been barred because "Arab countries taking part in the competition have no diplomatic relations with Israel and they reject its participation."
"I don't want my tournament to be jeopardized by an Arab boycott," he told The Associated Press.
At least 32 teams from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, North and South America are schedule to compete in the tournament in which a fencer can move closer to qualifying for the Athens Olympics.
"I have apologized nicely to the Israelis, but they didn't accept" the reason, Atiyat said.
"I believe their insistence to participate is politically motivated," he added. He declined to elaborate.
Israeli Ambassador Yacov Hadas earlier told the AP he expected the Jordanian government to change its decision.
Although the government stands by its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, many Jordanians strongly object to the agreement, particularly in view of the ongoing bloodshed in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. About half of Jordan's 5 million people are of Palestinian origin.
Israeli participation in Jordanian sports events has long been a low-key affair and limited to competitions such as car rallies and charity marathons.