By Duncan Mackay in Tokyo

Mark_Foster_carrying_flag_at_opening_ceremony_Beijing_2008July 16 - Britain's athletes should be allowed to march in the Opening Ceremony at London 2012, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commisssion Frankie Fredericks has claimed here.

The four-time Olympic silver medallist said that if UK Athletics' head coach Charles van Commenee imposed his blanket ban on the track and field team taking part in the Ceremony then they risked missing out on some of the most special moments of the Olympics.

The Games are due to open next year on July 27, a week before the athletics event begins on August 3, but van Commenee believes it would be counterproductive for the athletes to attend the event just days before the biggest competition of their lives.

Fredericks, however, disagrees and has offered to help find a solution so that Britain's athletes can take participate by shortening the length of time that they spend taking part in the Ceremony.

"We will try to limit the time the athletes are on their feet," Fredericks told insidethegames here where he has been attending the centenary celebrations of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

"I think it's important for the athletes to make sure they go to the Opening Ceremony if they wish.

"It's probably one of the greatest atmospheres ever."

Fredericks carried the Namibian flag at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona when his country made its debut in the Games, which did not stop him winning silver medals in the 100 and 200 metres.

Frankie_Fredericks_helps_lay_first_piece_of_turf_London_March_30_2011"For me it started the whole Olympic spirit and if I hadn't gone through the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 1992 I would never have realised how powerful the Olympic Movement is," said Fredericks, who earlier this year helped lay the final piece of turf at the London 2012 Olympic Stadium with Sebastian Coe.

"That was the first time I really felt it - walking into a Stadium surronded by so many people from different countries."

Van Commenee has claimed that the Opening Ceremony "doesn't fit in the professional preparation for the biggest event of your life" and "they would not go shopping for eight hours before their biggest event so why would you be on your feet for that long?"

But Fredericks, who also won silver medals in the 100m and 200m in Atlanta in 1996, insisted that taking part in the Olympics was more than just about an athletes' performance.

"Everyone knows there's only going to be one Olympic gold medal but it's being there, exchanging the pins, hearing about other countires you had never heard of that makes the whole thing special." he said.

Fredericks, who is also a member of the IOC Coordination Commission monitoring the preparations of London 2012, promised that everything would be done to ensure that the athletes preparations for their competition would not be compromised by the length of the Opening Ceremony.

"I think from the Athletes' Commission at the IOC we shall try to limit the time so it's not eight hours but maybe three to five hours," he said.

"If they have any advice or what they think we can do better we would like to do that rather than just putting a blanket boycott on the event."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]