By Barry Wilner, .c The Associated Press
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - Three more Cuban athletes sought asylum in Canada this weekend, bringing to seven the number of Cubans to leave the delegation during the Pan American Games.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police authorities confirmed Sunday that an athlete walked into their downtown office Saturday and said he wanted to defect.
The athlete, whom sources close to the Cuban delegation said was a member of men's 4 x 100 relay team, was turned over to immigration officials.
Neither the RCMP nor the sources, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, would reveal the name of the athlete. Track and field concluded Friday.
Late Sunday, the same sources told the AP a female artistic gymnast and a men's soccer goalkeeper sought asylum, as well. The two goalies for the soccer team are Rene Castro, who played every minute in the games, and Rodney Valdes.
Before the games began, pistol shooter Abel Juncosa Reyes asked for asylum. Reporter Lisette Cepero of Radio Rebelde also has sought to defect, as did a softball coach.
Another shooter, whom the Cubans say did not accompany the team - sources say he did, indeed, come to Canada - disappeared last week. The sources said he, too, was seeking to defect.
This latest episodes came hours after the heads of the 42 delegations to the games denounced agents they claimed were inciting Cuban athletes to defect. They condemned ``the negative actions that have affected not only Cuba, but all of the Americas, and have interfered with the Olympic movement
and the spirit of equality and good sportsmanship.''
Last Monday, Cuban President Fidel Castro said: ``We have never seen so many tricks, so much filth in the Pan American Games. We are competing in enemy territory.''
Jose Ramon Fernandez, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee, said sports agents have been seen near the athletes village trying to contact Cubans and encourage them ``to desert.'' He said these agents are plying the athletes with offers of million-dollar contracts.
Fernandez also has criticized media coverage of the defections, claiming the media had worsened the situation with its reporting.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press