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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 25, 1997 - Samoa News)---The Sydney Games 2000 torch relay that begins in Greece might pass through American Samoa if a proposal pending before the Australian Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee is approved.

According to Cooks Islands National Olympic Committee President John Tierney, the proposal, submitted by the Oceania Games Council, calls for the torch relay to pass through all Oceania countries before arriving in Sydney.

To strengthen Oceania's proposal, a representative of the Sydney Games 2000 visited American Samoa for two days last week to meet officials from various island nations who congregated here for the 5th South Pacific Mini-Games.

American Samoa's Committee President Ben Solaita confirmed to the Samoa News the pending proposal and the meeting that took place last Wednesday.

However, Tienery and Solaita declined to name the Sydney Games 2000 official who was visiting as she has asked to remain anonymous for now.

Among the issues discussed during the meeting, Solaita said, was "if each Oceania country can raise the estimated $200,000 needed to sponsor the torch relay

"I think American Samoa can raise the needed funds. It's a good thing for us," Solaita said. "If other Oceania countries can do it and we don't, where does that leave us?"

Tierney and Solaita said the final decision to include the Oceania countries on the torch relay will be made by December.

Tierney also pointed out to the Samoa News that the Sydney Games 2000 "were always considered games of Oceania."

If the proposal is accepted, the proposed Oceania route will begin with the Northern Pacific islands (Guam or Saipan, for example), continuing through the South Pacific islands before arriving in Sydney.

While she was here, the Sydney Games 2000 representative met separately with Tierney and South Pacific Games Council Secretary General Vidhya Lakhan.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to >samoanews@samoatelco.com

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