July 28, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) The IOC executive board recommended Tuesday that South Sudan be granted Olympic recognition, a step that would allow the world's newest nation to send a team to next year's games in Rio de Janeiro.

The full International Olympic Committee will vote on the recommendation on Sunday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

South Sudan, which split from Sudan and became independent in 2011, has been torn by civil war for the past two years.

''The Olympics is all about bridging gaps and building bridges between different communities,'' Adams said. ''This is a great signal to send to a troubled region.''

If South Sudan is formally approved Sunday, as expected, it would become the 206th country - the latest after Kosovo - to gain Olympic recognition.

At the 2012 London Olympics, South Sudanese marathon runner Guor Marial competed as an independent athlete under the IOC flag.

South Sudan was thrown into conflict in December 2013 by a clash between forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, and President Salva Kiir, a Dinka. The fighting has spurred a humanitarian crisis, throwing the world's newest nation into turmoil four years after its inception.

South Sudan's conflict has forced more than 2 million people from their homes, including 730,000 to neighboring countries.

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