Iraq excluded from Games


Olympics: Iraq cannot take part in the Beijing Olympics because it disbanded the country's Olympic Committee although a comment from the IOC, which organises the Games, suggested the ban may not be final.

Iraq's government disbanded the committee in May because of a dispute over how it had been assembled. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had given Iraq a deadline to reinstate the body, but the government has refused to back down.

"This morning we were informed of the final decision of the International Olympic Committee to suspend the membership of the Iraqi Olympic Committee," Hussein al-Amidi, the general secretary of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, explained.

"It is a blow to Iraq and its international reputation, its athletes and its youth," he added.

Iraq had planned to send a small team despite violence that has killed more than 100 athletes in the country since the 2003 US-led invasion.

At least seven Iraqi athletes - two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer - had won places at the Beijing Games.

The IOC, which has long supported Iraqi athletes training abroad to prepare for the Games, said it was "very disappointed with this development".