Iraqi sprinter Dana Abdul-Razzaq prepares for training in al-Shaab National Stadium in Baghdad in this picture taken March 18, 2008. Few athletes will have overcome the obstacles 21-year-old Abdul-Razzaq has faced to reach Beijing, from a sniper’s bullets to a paucity of adequate training facilities and religious and cultural opposition to female athletes. Picture taken March 18, 2008. (Reuters)
The International Olympic Committee has banned Iraq from the 2008 Olympics.
The IOC wants the original Iraqi committee members to represent the team. But, they were kidnapped two years ago and have not been seen since that time.
The IOC called the move unacceptable government interference.
FOX News reported:
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An Iraqi delegation headed to Switzerland on Saturday for talks with the International Olympic Committee over a ban on Iraq competing in the Beijing Games, government officials said.
The Iraqis will meet with IOC representatives early next week at the committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies.
She said the Iraqis have offered the IOC “productive signals” that could allow two athletes from the original seven-member Iraqi team to compete in Beijing. She did not elaborate.
The Iraqi envoys include the government’s main spokesman and other senior sports representatives, two sports officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
In May, Iraq’s government replaced the national Olympic Committee with members not recognized by the IOC. Iraqi officials have said they will not reverse the decision and claim the disbanded committee was rife with corruption and other abuses.
The IOC, meanwhile, has insisted the old committee be reinstated — even though four members remain missing, including the committee’s chief. They were kidnapped two years ago and their fates remain unknown.
Ahmed Radhi, a member of the sports committee in Iraq’s parliament, was quoted by the sports newspaper Azzaman as saying he still holds out hope for a compromise before the Aug. 8 opening ceremony in Beijing.
On Friday, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said the deadline to finalize athletics competitors is this coming Wednesday, and that Iraq can field a partial team if the government reverses its decision.
Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussain broke down in tears when she learned she could not participate in the Beijing Summer Olympics. (CNN)
The Iraqi government was also upset with the remaining members on the national committee.
The government said the original committee held meetings without quorums and had officials serving in one-year posts for more than five years. Many of the officials also lived outside Iraq, the government said. A former official from the disbanded Iraq Olympic Committee said the IOC’s decision was justified because the government interfered with the national committee by suspending it.
The former official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.