Iraq banned from participating in Beijing Olympics

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has told the Iraqi Olympic Committee that Iraq can not field a team in the 2008 Summer Olympics, which are due to open in Beijing, China August 8, 2008.

The Olympic flag

The International Olympic committee said that it took this action "as a consequence of the ongoing political interference by the government within the sports movement in Iraq." The Iraqi government suspended its Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committee of Iraq, which they viewed as dysfunctional for several reasons, including the holding of illegitimate meetings, having officials serve past their post and living outside of the country. Interference by government is not permitted by the IOC.

The government of Iraq has said that the decision undermines the effort athletes put into getting a place in the Iraqi Olympic team. Dana Hussain, one of the sprinters who would have been on the Iraqi team, was reported to be distraught by the decision. According to her coach she was "crying for about two hours." Her coach compared the decision to "finding out that a close relative has died."

The deadline to register for five of the seven would-be Iraqi Olympians has passed. However, if the National Olympic Committee of Iraq is reinstated, the possibility exists that its two sprinters may be able to compete, if they register before the track and field deadline at the end of July.