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Koreas agree to march together

Juan Antonio Samaranch pulled off a diplomatic coup for his final Olympics as IOC president. Athletes from North and South Korea will march together for the first time in the Opening Ceremonies on Friday.

After five days of intense negotiations, Samaranch brokered a deal Sunday for athletes and officials from the divided peninsula to parade as one team behind a unification flag.

"I think this is very good news for sport, for the Olympic family and also for the Games of Sydney," Samaranch said in announcing the agreement at the opening of the International Olympic Committee's annual general assembly.

The Koreas remain technically at war because their three-year conflict in the early 1950s ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Samaranch proposed the march in letters to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il before their historic June summit meeting in Pyongyang, capital of the North.

The South Koreans quickly accepted. The proposal went through several changes before the North Koreans gave their assent.

Samaranch said 180 athletes and officials, 90 from each country, will march in a delegation called "Korea." The delegation will parade behind one flag held by two athletes, one from the North and one from the South, he said.

North Korea's delegation totals about 70, South Korea's 400. It was not clear how the marching parity would be achieved.

During the Games, the Koreas will compete as separate countries.

North Korea's IOC member, Chang Ung, was asked to explain why his nation agreed to the march. In halting English, Chang expressed hope for reunification of the peninsula. "We are the same blood," he said.

BASEBALL: Jon Cotton hit a grand slam and three pitchers combined on a two-hitter as the U.S. team beat South Africa 17-1 in a tuneup on Australia's Gold Coast.

The Americans improved to 4-0 in their six-game exhibition series. The game was halted after seven innings because of the 10-run rule.

"We swung the bats really well today and continued to get strong pitching," U.S. manager Tommy Lasorda said.

Devil Rays minor-leaguer Brent Abernathy had two hits and two RBI. Kurt Ainsworth struck out seven and allowed two hits in five innings for the win.

GYMNASTICS: Second alternate Tasha Schwikert will replace injured Morgan White on the U.S. women's team, Schwikert's father told nbcolympics.com.

Warren Schwikert told the Web site that his daughter was informed of the decision Friday night. He said he and his wife, Joy, received a call from Tasha, 15, while working at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

"(Tasha) called the dice pit, and they rushed to get her mother from whatever dice game she was working," Warren said. "Then they called me off my game."

White has a sore left foot that limited her participation in the team send-off event Sept. 2. Multiple examinations at the time revealed only swollen ligaments, White's coach, Mary Lee Tracy, said. But the foot did not improve enough to allow White to compete.

It was not known why Schwikert was chosen to compete over first alternate Alyssa Beckerman, the Web site said.

SWIMMING: American Gary Hall Jr., attempting to win four medals in consecutive Olympics, has curtailed his training after what he called a "rough flight" to Australia.

Hall told nbcolympics.com that the 14-hour flight from the United States aggravated his diabetes and forced him to remain in Sydney while teammates train in Brisbane.

"I am feeling fine," he said. "But with diabetes, it's important to eat on a regular schedule, and there was just a concern to prevent it from getting worse."

TRACK AND FIELD: Merlene Ottey, trying to show the Jamaican federation she is fit enough for a sixth Olympics, won the 100 meters in a wind-aided 10.91 seconds at the Gold Coast Meet. Ottey, 40, finished fourth in the Jamaican trials, .02 seconds behind the winner. The federation told her she would be a member of the 400-meter relay team. That isn't good enough for Ottey, winner of seven Olympic medals. The Jamaican team will decide its three 100 runners Sept. 19. If she isn't chosen, Ottey said, "I think I will go on vacation." In other events, American Stacy Dragila, the world-record holder in the pole vault, won by clearing 14 feet, 5\ inches on a windy day. She missed three times at 14-9. Peter Burge, the Australian long jump record-holder and the Commonwealth champion, won with a wind-aided 27-10, beating American Savante Stringfellow. Nigerian Olympic officials told hurdler Glory Alozie that she must arrange _ and apparently pay for _ the return of her fiance's body. Hyginus Anugo, a reserve on the team, was killed by a car in Sydney last week. The officials said the body is not their responsibility.

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