Washington Post article here.
BAGHDAD, July 24 — Iraqi athletes have been banned from competing in the Olympics in Beijing because of a squabble between the Iraqi government and the International Olympic Committee, making Iraq one of the few countries to be barred from the games.
Iraqi officials learned on Tuesday that its seven-member Olympic team would not be allowed to participate this summer because of the dispute, according to Haider Ali Lazim, a former member of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee who represented Iraq in judo in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The dispute began when the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disbanded the Iraqi Olympic Committee in May, accusing its members of corruption and winning their seats through rigged elections. Lazim, a member of the disbanded group, said the committee denies the allegations.
The Iraqi athletes planned to represent Iraq in judo, archery, wrestling, rowing and track and field.
“The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts,” IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said in an e-mail. “We are very disappointed that the athletes have been so ill-served by their own government’s actions.”
But there is still some small hope:
Davies said Iraq could possibly still field a team if the government promised in writing to cease interfering with the national committee. The deadline for track and field athlete submissions is July 31, and every participating national Olympic committee is entitled to send one male and one female athlete, she said.