Iraq Barred From Beijing Games

Olympic bosses not happy with government dissolution of country's committee
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2008 1:21 PM CDT
Relatives stand around belongings of 13 members of an Iraqi tae kwon do team kidnapped last year in Anbar province.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Iraq has been banned from next month’s Beijing Olympics because of what the International Olympic Committee calls government interference in the Olympic process, MSNBC reports. The Iraqi leadership dissolved the country’s Olympic committee, which is supposed to be an independent body of elected officials, and replaced it with a temporary group of their own selection.

The dispute may stem from Iraq’s sectarian tensions: The current government is primarily Shia, while the national committee is something of a relic of the Saddamist Sunni regime. “We are very disappointed that the athletes have been so ill-served by their own government’s actions,” an spokesman said after Baghdad failed to reinstate the old committee by today’s deadline.