Olympics-War-torn South Sudan set to join Olympic family

Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:37am EDT
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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - South Sudan is set to become the 206th member of the Olympic family later this week, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday, despite ongoing fierce fighting in the African country.

The IOC Session will vote on South Sudan's membership on Sunday after a recommendation submitted by the executive board on Tuesday, spokesman Mark Adams said.

"The Olympics is all about bridging gaps, building bridges between communities. This a great signal to send to a troubled region," Adams told reporters.

Thousands have been killed and more than 2.2 million displaced since fighting broke out in December 2013 between President Salva Kiir's government and rebels commanded by Riek Machar.

Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses and indiscriminate killings, which have often been carried out along ethnic lines, with Machar's Nuers pitted against Kiir's powerful Dinkas.

South Sudan's marathon runner Guor Marial competed at the London 2012 Olympics but did so under the Olympic flag after refusing to run for Sudan and with South Sudan not yet an IOC member.

Once the country is officially part of the IOC it can send a team to next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics who can compete under its own flag.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)