25 Jul 2008

IOC bans Iraq from Beijing Olympics

7:13 pm on 25 July 2008

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed a ban on Iraq from competing in the Beijing Games in a major blow to seven Iraqi athletes who had hoped to travel to China.

The IOC suspended Iraq for "political interference" in its national Olympic committee which was sacked in May and replaced by a new panel.

It had warned that sanctions could be imposed after the committee and other sports bodies were disbanded.

After the initial suspension it was believed that up to seven Iraqi athletes would still participate under the Olympic flag however the IOC has made it clear that opportunity is no longer an option.

The Iraqi government had said that the previous Olympic committee was sacked because of corruption, a failure to hold elections in more than five years and accountability.

World football governing body FIFA also suspended the Iraqi football federation over the issue but rescinded its decision in late May when Baghdad said the suspension of sports bodies did not extend to football.