Sectarian battles for control of Iraq’s national team between Shiites and Sunnis have led the International Olympic Committee to block Iraq from participating in the Summer Games in Beijing. The ban was upheld Thursday after the Iraqis failed to meet a deadline to appeal the decision, thereby losing a chance to generate considerable PR and/or pride for the wounded country.
AP Via Google:
In May, the [Iraqi] government dissolved the National Olympic Committee. Among the claims was it was illegitimate because it lacked a legal quorum—but four members of the committee, including its chief, were kidnapped two years ago and their fates are unknown.
There is also a potential sectarian rift. Iraq’s Youth and Sports Ministry is dominated by Shiites, while the NOC includes several holdovers from the Saddam-era Olympic Committee, once run by his feared eldest son, Odai.
The International Olympic Committee denounced the order as “serious interference” in what is supposed to be an independent body and demanded the government respect the NOC’s autonomy.