Department lifts Taiwan's Olympic SARS ban


Athletes from Taiwan will compete in the Special Olympics World Games to be held in Ireland later this month.

The Department of Health said today the Taiwanese team will travel after spending 10 days in a Non-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) affected area.

The decision follows a change last week in the recommendations of the Department's expert group on SARS. The expert group met yesterday and was given a submission from the Taiwanese authorities.

It has now decided that only athletes from SARS-affected "regions" or "areas" in countries of recent local transmission would be banned from attending.

As a result athletes from certain regions of China are the only Special Olympics athletes not attending.

It was also confirmed today that Iraq will be sending eight athletes to the games. The team had earlier withdrawn because of the US-led attack on the country. The Iraqi team will be hosted by Larne.

The decision on the Taiwanese team comes as the World Health Organization said the SARS outbreak may be nearing its end.