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Iraq banned from Beijing Olympics
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Thursday its suspension on Iraq National Olympic Committee (NOC) that would deprive Iraqi athletes from participating in the Beijing Olympic Games.

In a letter addressed to the Iraqi Minister of Youth and Sports Jassim Mohammad Jaafar, the IOC confirmed the ban imposed on Iraqi athletes last month.

"We regretfully inform you that the IOC executive board's decision, dated June 4, 2008 ordering the suspension of the Iraqi NOC has been formally approved," the letter obtained by Xinhua said.

"This means that Iraq will not take part in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Iraqi athletes will not take part in the competitions," it said.

"As a result, the invitations issued by the trilateral committee to Iraqi sportsmen during qualifiers have been withdrawn and given to other national Olympic committees," the letter added.

The International Olympic Committee's executive board took the action because the Iraqi government's recently dissolved the national Olympic body and appointed an interim group presided over by the Minister of Youth and Sports.

Late in May, the Iraqi government ordered the dissolution of the national body. It said that the committee was illegitimate because it could not reach a quorum as four of its 11 members including chairman Ahmed al-Hijiya have been kidnapped in Baghdad since 2006.

The government also has accused its Olympic committee of corruption.

The Iraqi government formed an interim committee headed by the Minister of Youth and Sports with all the needed powers for three months to hold elections and to enact a new law for the new national Olympic committee.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2008)

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