Iraqi team barred from 2008 Olympics

July 24, 2008 at 2:08 PM
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 24 (UPI) -- Iraq's seven-member team has been barred from the Beijing Summer Games by the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC announced Thursday that the Iraqi team -- two athletes who were to complete in rowing and two from track and field along with a weightlifter, an archer and judo participant -- wouldn't be allowed to take part in the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.

"The IOC would like to see Iraq's athletes in Beijing, and is disappointed they have been so ill-served by their own government's actions," the committee said in a release.

The IOC Charter demands that all committees be free of political influence. The Iraqi Olympic Committee was disbanded by the national government in May. Iraqi leaders alleged corruption in the national Olympic committee as a reason for the action.

The IOC, however, saw it as political interference, which led to Thursday's barring of Iraq's team.

"Over the last five years, the IOC and the wider Olympic family have provided funding and training opportunities to support the Iraqi (national organizing committee) and more than 50 Iraqi athletes and coaches. The Iraqi government's actions have destroyed this progress," the IOC release said.

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