Khalid Mohammed/AP
Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer pose with members
of the
Iraqi National Olympic committee and Iraqi athletes participating in the
Games in Greece, 2004. (AP)

Iraqi Olympic Team Banned From Beijing Games

July 24, 2008 05:56 PM
by Josh Katz
The International Olympic Committee has banned Iraq from participating in the 2008 Olympics, in response to the country disbanding its national Olympic committee.

30-Second Summary

The International Olympic Committee informed Iraqi Youth and Sports Minister Jassem Jaafar Thursday morning that the country would not be represented in the Olympics to take place next month, citing “political interference.” The IOC mandates that all national Olympic committees be free of political influence.

In May, the Iraqi government disbanded the national Olympic committee and a number of other national sports bodies, and replaced the Olympic panel with the one headed by Jaafar. The IOC then threatened Iraq with sanctions, and provisionally suspended the new Iraqi Olympic Committee. Today, the news surfaced that the decision to ban Iraq is final.

President George W. Bush’s spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House was disappointed by the decision to suspend Iraq from the Olympics and she claimed that she didn’t know why Iraq opted to disband the committee in May.

At least five Iraqi athletes had been expected to participate in the Beijing Games, in archery, judo, rowing and weightlifting.

Iraq’s surprising victory in soccer’s 2007 Asian Cup brought celebration to the country’s streets and spotlighted its athletics. The nation also attended the previous Summer Olympics, “less than 18 months after the invasion,” according to The Guardian.

Iraq had struggled to achieve Olympic success under the leadership of Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, who was killed by coalition forces in 2003. Uday was known for the brutal punishments he inflicted on athletes who did not perform to his liking.

Headline Links: Iraq suspended from Olympics

Related Topics: Uday Hussein; the Asian Cup

Reference: Iraq’s Olympic achievements; Olympics guide


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