IOC lifts ban on Iraqi athletes participating in the Beijing Olympics

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has lifted a ban on Iraqi athletes participating in the Beijing Olympics. The IOC placed a ban on the country's participation on July 24 claiming a political influence within Iraq's national Olympic committee. This came after the Iraqi government's suspension of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Iraq in May 2008.


The 2008 Summer Olympics Logo
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

The decision to remove the ban is a result of the Iraqi government's agreement to allow free elections for their National Olympic Committee while under international scrutiny. "The National Olympic Committee will have fair elections before the end of November," said Pere Miro, Director of the IOC's relation with NOC's. In the meantime, Iraq's NOC will be run by a interim Committee approved by the IOC.

Even though the ban has been lifted, five of the seven athletes are still unable to participate due to the final date of selections having passed. Two athletes participating in sprinting and rowing are expected to compete.

There has been some who believed that Iraq has been treated wrongly in the matter of their NOC. Ahmed Tabour, head of the Cultural and Sports Committee stated that "Iraq was never suspended during the days of Saddam [Hussein], who personally appointed the national Olympic committee. The Iraqi people need hope, and sport gives them a lot of hope."