Colombia Gives Up South American Games

Wednesday, April 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A wave of violence forced Colombia to withdraw as host of the South American Games, a regional sports competition set for May.

The South American Sports Organization will meet April 18 in Paraguay to select a new host for the multisport event May 3-12. About 3,500 athletes from 15 countries were expected to compete in Colombia.

Colombia's national Olympic committee announced the withdrawal Tuesday after a day of bombings in and around the capital left two dead and four injured. On Sunday, another bombing in nearby Villavicencio killed 12 and injured 70.

The Colombian and Uruguayan tennis teams were in Villavicencio for the Davis Cup. No players were injured and the matches were played later in the day.

Maria Consuelo Araujo, the Colombian organizer of the games, said she understood the decision.

``We can't cover up reality with out hands,'' she said, referring to a ``terrible wave of terrorism.''

In the past few weeks, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay said they would not attend the games in Colombia. Argentina originally was set to hold the games but sought a change because of its economic crisis.

Security concerns threatened the 2001 Copa America soccer tournament. Canada and Argentina refused to attend, but the event stayed in Colombia and the games went off without trouble.

Colombia's 38-year civil war has been escalating since Feb. 20 when the government ended peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The rebels stepped up attacks, targeting bridges, electrical and communications towers and reservoirs, and planting bombs in towns and rural areas.

FARC has not claimed responsibility for this week's violence in Villavicencio or Bogota, but authorities believe the 16,000-strong rebel group is responsible.