Iraq reaches agreement with IOC
The International Olympic Committee and the Iraqi government on Monday reached agreement on how the country will elect future members to the Iraqi Olympic organizing committee. The accord settled a disagreement that prevented some Iraqi athletes from competing at the Beijing Games.
The dispute began after Iraq's Shiite-led government dismissed members of the country’s national Olympic committee and replaced them with a team led by a cabinet minister.
The committee had included several holdovers from the Saddam Hussein era, when Sunni Arabs had the greatest role. The IOC said the move amounted to government interference and in May suspended Iraq’s membership.
That suspension effectively benched Iraq's seven-member Beijing Games squad. Late in July, however, the IOC and Iraq brokered a compromise that allowed four Iraqi athletes to participate in Beijing. Three others couldn't compete because the deadline for their sports had passed.
Iraq’s Independent Election Commission, the judiciary and the IOC will supervise an upcoming election to name the committee members.
“The Iraqi government is keen to have elected Iraqi sports federations and an Iraqi National Olympic Committee in a transparent, democratic and fair way,” according to a statement released Monday and reported by the Associated Press.
-- Greg Johnson
Photo: Iraqi men's double sculls competitors Haidar Nozad and Hussein Jebur compete on Monday at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in Beijing. Credit: Roland Weihrauch / European Pressphoto Agency