IOC confirms Iraq's Olympic ban but there is still hope
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has
confirmed the ban on Iraq sending a team to next month's Olympic Games in
Beijing but said Thursday that there is still hope that athletes from the
country could still compete, dpa reported.
Seven athletes had hoped to travel to China but the IOC confirmed the ban it imposed last month in a letter dated July 23 and addressed to the Iraqi Minister of Youth and Sports Jassim Mohammed Jaffer and the acting secretary general of the Iraqi cabinet, Ali Mohsin Ismail.
The IOC took the measure as a result of what it described as "the Iraqi government's ongoing interference in the affairs of the executive board of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee (NOC)."
Iraq disbanded its national Olympic committee in May and replaced it with a new panel headed by Jaafar.
"The government is clearly taking over the Iraq Olympic Committee. They dismissed them," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "We asked them about the possibility of a meeting in Lausanne (where the IOC has its headquarters) but didn't get a positive answer."
The letter was sent by the IOC relations director Pere Miro and the general director of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
"As a result, and despite joint efforts between the IOC and OCA over the past few months to find a positive solution with Iraqi authorities, we would like to inform you that the IOC executive board's decision, dated June 4, 2008 ordering the suspension of the Iraqi NOC has been formally approved," the letter said.
"We deeply regret this outcome which severely harms the Iraqi Olympic and Sports Movement and the Iraqi athletes but which is unfortunately imposed by the circumstances."
However, that there was still a chance that the Iraqi flag could be seen in Beijing.
"we still hope to see Iraq at the Games because athletics have a later registration deadline than other sports. Maybe by then we will have reached a solution for this issue," said Moreau.
"it's a very slight hope, but there is one."