Iraq have been banned from next month's Beijing Games because of a government decision to disband the country's National Olympic Committee (NOC), a senior official said on Thursday.
"This morning we were informed of the final decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend the membership of the Iraqi Olympic Committee," NOC general secretary Hussein al-Amidi told Reuters.
"It is a blow to Iraq and its international reputation, its athletes and its youth."
The government of Iraq disbanded the NOC in May because of a dispute over how it had been assembled. The IOC gave Iraq a deadline to reinstate the committee but the government has refused to back down.
Iraq had planned to send a small team despite violence that has killed more than 100 athletes in the country since the 2003 United States-led invasion.
At least seven Iraqi athletes, two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer, had won places in Beijing.
"There's nothing I can do. The government of Iraq wanted this. I can't believe I'm not going to take part in the Beijing Olympics. The news is hard to take," archer Ali Adnan told Reuters from Egypt where he had been training.
Last Mod: 25 Temmuz 2008, 13:32