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January 16, 1988, Page 001047 The New York Times Archives

Cuba said yesterday that it would not participate in the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, this summer unless North Korea, one of its allies, could be co-host of the Games, and the safety of its athletes could be guaranteed.

That announcement, which was widely viewed as a rejection because of the conditions attached, surprised senior officials of the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee.

''I had not expected that, I'm very surprised,'' Richard Pound of Canada, an I.O.C. vice president, said last night from Montreal. ''I think it is a bad decision.'' U.S.O.C. Chief Responds

Robert Helmick, the president of the U.S.O.C. said from Atlanta, where committee meetings are being held this weekend: ''It's unfortunate for the Cuban athletes. They're doing exactly what Castro said they would do if North Korea could not reach an accord with the South Koreans about attending the Games.''

North Korea said earlier this week that it would not attend if its demand to co-host the games were not met. Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, has steadfastly supported North Korea's position, saying his country would not attend the games if the I.O.C. failed to accommodate the North Koreans.

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In its most recent proposal, offered last June, the I.O.C. agreed to allow North Korea to stage five events. North Korea insisted upon at least eight, as well as greater recognition as a host country. Deadline Tomorrow

The deadline for accepting the invitation to attend the Games is tomorrow. Yesterday, Vietnam, Czechoslavakia, Madagascar and Tanzania replied favorably, bringing to 160 the number of nations that plan to attend. Nicaragua declined the invitation, leaving four countries - Albania, Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Syria -uncommitted.

At a news conference in Havana, Manuel Gonzalez Guerra, the president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, read a letter that he said Castro had sent to Juan Antonio Samaranch, the I.O.C. president. The contents of the letter were included in a dispatch by Prensa Latina, the Cuban news agency, and monitored in Mexico City by The Associated Press.

In the letter, Castro said he regretted the decision. ''Our nation and our athletes, who are guided by deep ethical standards and a great sense of honor, will not be discouraged and will continue preparing for the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992,'' he said.

Only if the conditions for acceptance were met, the letter said, could the Cubans reconsider their decision. 'Cuba's Not Going'

According to the Reuters news agency, Gonzalez told reporters that the decision was unanimous and made after Cuba's Olympic committee members had met with Castro earlier in the day.

''Cuba is not going to Seoul,'' Gonzalez said. Pound said that Cuba's decision would not affect the I.O.C.'s intention to invite the Cubans to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. The decision could affect Havana's status as host of the 1991 Pan American Games. When that designation was awarded in 1986, it was with the understanding that Cuba would attend the Olympics in Seoul.

The Seoul Olympics will be the first Summer Games competition between athletes from Western nations and those from Eastern-bloc countries since 1976. More than 60 countries, led by the United States, boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow in a protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union led a boycott of Eastern-bloc nations against the Summer Games in Los Angeles, asserting that the safety of its athletes could not be guaranteed. Rumania was the only Soviet ally to attend. NICARAGUA SAYS NO

MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Jan. 15 (Special to The New York Times) -Nicaragua will not send athletes to the 1988 Olympic Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, the president of the Nicaraguan Olympic Committee, Moises Hassan Morales, said Thursday night.

Hassan said that the decision was based on athletic and financial considerations, and that it was not politically motivated. He said that solidarity with North Korea, which is boycotting the Games, was not a factor. ''We are in the middle of a war, and we're very short of resources,'' Hassan said in a brief interview while attending a Government function.

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