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 this August, an IOC letter said. In the letter dated July 23 and addressed to the Iraqi Minister of Youth and Sports Jassim Mohammed Jaffer, the IOC said it was moving ahead with a ban first imposed on Iraq's athletes last month.
"In spite of all the joint efforts of IOC and OCA (Olympic Council of Asia), over the last months to find a positive solution with the Iraqi government authorities, we regretfully inform you that the decision of the IOC executive board dated 4 June 2008 to suspend the National Olympic Committee of Iraq is confirmed," said the letter, obtained by AFP on Thursday.
"We deeply regret this outcome which severely harms the Iraqi Olympic and Sports Movement and the Iraqi athletes but which is unfortunately imposed by the circumstances."
The IOC suspended Iraq for "political interference" in its national Olympic committee which was sacked last month and replaced by a new panel headed by Jaafar. The IOC had warned of sanctions after Iraq disbanded its Olympic committee and other sports bodies on May 21, 2008.
"The quota places obtained through the qualification systems and the invitation places offered by the Tripartite Commission to Iraqi athletes have been withdrawn and re-allocated to other NCOs," the letter said.