Jordan Youth Minister to Ask Arab Summit ‘to Separate Sports from Politics’
By Ra’fat Sarah
Jordan’s minister of youth and sports, Saeed Shuqum, has said he will ask the Arab leaders meeting in Amman Tuesday to remove all restrictions before Arab athletes’ participation in all the sport events organized in the region.
In an interview with Albawaba.com, Shuqum said that his ministry has drafted a recommendation to be presented to the summit calling on the heads of Arab states “to guarantee that Arab teams’ participation in any tournament become a natural matter,” without any political obstacles.
He added that he will call on Arab sport unions not to freeze the membership of any member country. He said that the Arab unions are not recognized internationally, and their reason d’etre is to serve the Arab countries through upgrading their teams’ performances and foster brotherly ties between them.
“I wish we could reach a stage when sports activities are carried out absolute isolation from political differences,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shuqum announced that a campaign will be launched at the Arab level through which the Arab youth send messages to their leaders urging them to move towards the direction of politics-free sports.
He said that campaign will utilize media channels and Internet sites to achieve its goals.
Political problems have marred Arab sports events. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, for example, refused Iraqi participation in the Arab Tournament in Beirut in 1998. The Iraqi delegation was banned from entry to Lebanon and was held for three days at the Syrian-Lebanese border before returning back home.
However, a positive change has been witnessed in the current table tennis competition in Tunis. The Iraqi team is taking part, along with the Kuwaiti, in the tournament after the Arab Table Tennis Union persuaded Kuwait to set aside its differences with its neighbor and agree to compete in the tournament.