Pressure's on committee after boycott threat

Updated: August 6, 2004, 1:32 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BERLIN -- Germany's tennis federation asked its national Olympic committee to reverse its plan to bar the country's top two female players from the Athens Games, a stance that drew a boycott threat from some on the WTA Tour.

The German Olympic Committee set its own steep standards for tennis players, leaving Anca Barna and Marlene Weingaertner off the team even though they qualified automatically for Athens under an agreement among the WTA, the International Tennis Federation and the IOC.

But Germany officials do not appear ready to back down in the dispute.

"We announced our squad of 453 sportsmen and women on July 21 and there won't be any additions," German Olympic committee president Klaus Steinbach told the website www.sport.de. "We expect the ITF and WTA to recognize this."

WTA chief executive Larry Scott is far from confident that the issue will be resolved by the Olympic entry deadline, which is the end of this week.

"We've been doing everything possible (to solve the problem)," Scott said. "We're working with the ITF and with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), and (IOC president) Jacques Rogge has been involved. But the final veto is with the German Olympic committee because they name the players and they are not willing to budge.

"There is a real chance we won't be able to resolve the matter before the (entry) deadline at the end of the week."

Officials at the national Olympic committee refused to comment Thursday.

Scott met with about 30 players Wednesday at the Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal and told them a boycott "is not in the interests of women's professional tennis" -- a sentiment echoed by Weingaertner.

Scott said the WTA would consider not awarding ranking points if a resolution isn't reached.

"The agreement between the WTA and the ITF allows the WTA to withdraw ranking points if [the Germans] do not send these two players," Scott said.

The top 56 players in the rankings in July were to be admitted to the Olympics, with up to four per country, and Barna (46th) and Weingaertner (52nd) met that standard. But Germany's own standards included reaching the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament or the semifinals at a Tier 1 event -- something neither German woman has done.

Scott pointed out that Germany made an exception for Florian Mayer, who was ranked 53rd and reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Germany's Olympic committee has said it made a "one-time exception" for him.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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