Gary Hall Jr. to Swim for Australia?

BRISBANE, Sept. 11. AUSTRALIAN Swimming, Inc. said today it accepts Gary Hall Jr.'s praise for the Aussie system after the US star revealed he would seek approval to swim for Australia at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Hall told respected Brisbane Courier Mail swimming writer Wayne Smith: "There is a real momentum to Australian swimming at the moment with everyone
working in the same direction…the enthusiasm for the sport down here is contagious. So why not surround yourself with the best?"

But ASI admitted it would not be a straight forward process for the Olympic champion to compete for Australia in Athens or in immediate international events.

ASI executive director, Vena Murray, said today Hall would have to abide by the Australian Federal Government regulations which would require him to apply for permanent residency and live in Australia for
two years, before applying for Australian citizenship.

"In that time Gary would have to live and train in Australia and do all the things that all our swimmers have to do within our system," said Mrs. Murray.

FINA regulations only require the swimmer to reside in the country for 12 months before he or she can compete for another country in FINA events but the Australian laws would over-ride them.

The Olympic charter says an athlete, who has changed nationality or acquired a new nationality shall not participate in the Olympic Games to represent his new country until three years after such change or

According to the AOC charter "this period may be reduced or even cancelled with the agreement of the National Olympic Committee (in this case the USOC) and the International Federation (FINA) and the approval of the International Olympic Committee Executive board.

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