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Vancouver Canada
24-07-08, 19:13
Iraq banned from Beijing Olympics


Iraq has been banned from competing at the Beijing Games because of government interference, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday.

Iraq's Olympic committee had been under suspension from the IOC since June after the country's government dismissed officials in favour of its own appointees, who weren't recognized by the IOC.

The move ran afoul of the IOC charter, which requires national Olympic committees to be free of political influence.

The Iraqi government said the old committee was illegitimate after four of its 11 members were kidnapped in Baghdad in 2006.

"This morning we were informed of the final decision of the International Olympic Committee to suspend the membership of the Iraqi Olympic Committee," Hussein al-Amidi, the general secretary of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, said Thursday.

Iraq had planned to send a team of five athletes to Beijing, but missed a Wednesday deadline to submit a squad for the Aug. 8-24 Games amid its stalemate with the IOC.

Iraq's places will be offered to athletes from other countries.

"The deadline for taking up places for Beijing for all sports except athletics has now passed," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts."

The IOC said the Iraqi government did not accept an invitation to come to its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to try to end the dispute.

"It's a final decision, there is no way to appeal," Amidi said. "This means that Iraq will not take part in the coming Olympic Games. It is a blow to Iraq and its international reputation, its athletes and its youth."

"I swear those athletes who have been training… they phoned me today and they were crying and were very upset."

Iraq's government said after the June 4 suspension that it wanted to meet with the IOC "to make its legitimate case."

It said the decision to dissolve the Olympic committee was based on "solid evidence of blatant corruption, lack of legitimate transparent electoral processes and accountability, and absence of ratified legislation."

Iraq's athletes are not the first to miss an Olympic Games because of government interference.

In the most recent case, Afghanistan was prevented from sending a team to the 2000 Sydney Games because of the Taliban regime's intervention in sports administration.
With files from the Associated Press



http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/story/2008/07/24/iraq-ban.html

Vancouver Canada
30-07-08, 05:14
Olympic panel ends ban, says Iraq can go to games

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 33 minutes ago

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - The International Olympic Committee agreed Tuesday to allow Iraq to participate in the Beijing games, reversing itself after Baghdad pledged to ensure the independence of its national Olympics panel.

The decision followed last-minute talks between Iraqi officials and the IOC ahead of Wednesday's deadline to submit competitors' names for track and field events. The Olympics begin Aug. 8.

Iraq is now expected to send two athletes to Beijing to compete in track and field. The decision came too late for five other hopefuls in archery, judo, rowing and weightlifting. The deadline to submit names for those sports expired last week.

Iraq's National Olympic Committee was dissolved by the Baghdad government in May, prompting the IOC to suspend the Mideast country from the Olympics for political interference.

The IOC had insisted the old committee be reinstated even though four members were kidnapped two years ago. Their fates remain unknown.

The agreement worked out Tuesday calls for Iraq to hold free elections for its national Olympic committee under international observation.

"The National Olympic Committee will have fair elections before the end of November," said Pere Miro, head of the IOC's department for relations with national Olympic committees.

In the meantime Iraq's Olympic organization will be run by an interim committee proposed by its national sports federations and approved by the IOC, he said.

"We want to forget all the past," Iraq's government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press after signing the agreement at a news conference. "We want to have real representation for the Iraqi teams and the Iraqi supporters."

The breakthrough came after eight hours of talks Tuesday at the IOC's headquarters in Lausanne involving Miro and Husain al-Musallam, director-general of the Olympic Council of Asia.

Hours before the talks, a delegation of Iraqi groups in Switzerland came to IOC headquarters to deliver a letter to Olympic officials expressing dismay at their country's suspension and requesting the decision be overturned.

The IOC last suspended Iraq in May 2003 — weeks after U.S.-led troops toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. That ban occurred after the IOC learned of the abuse of athletes by Saddam's son Uday, the country's former Olympic chief.

The suspension was lifted a year later, allowing Iraq to take part in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens where it fielded 25 athletes.

Iraq's soccer team made it to the semifinals, prompting celebrations throughout a country where sports fans have had little to cheer about in recent years as the war claimed the lives of athletes, coaches and staff.

The Olympic cycling coach, national wrestling coach, a soccer federation member and a prominent volleyball player have been killed, most in 2006 during the height of sectarian slayings.

The two athletes who will represent Iraq at Beijing have benefited from an IOC solidarity program that allowed them to train at sports facilities abroad, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.

Although the duo failed to meet the qualifications to go to Beijing, they were allowed to take part under the IOC's wild card scheme designed to ensure every country is represented at the games.

The fact that they are unlikely to add to Iraq's overall tally of one bronze medal since its first appearance at the Summer Olympics in 1948 is of no great concern, said al-Dabbagh.

"Sport is really important for us in Iraq right now," he said. "It brings the people together."


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080730/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_olympics