Thursday, July 24, 2008

IOC to Iraq: C-U-L8R

Today's news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) won't allow Iraq Olympians to complete in China is getting plenty of headlines. It seems that since the government of Iraq has too much of a political role with their national Olympic committee (which was dissolved in May, according to Reuters), the IOC enforced its Olympic Charter and cut any Iraqi athletes from the roster for Beijing (Chapter Four of the Charter, for those who wish to study in detail).

From my perspective, this is much ado about nothing, and here's why:

One (common?) perception about the IOC is that, like the United Nations, the 200+ nations around the world have a representative up to the IOC. But the IOC is autonomous -- it is the IOC that deploys its representatives to the nations of the world, bestowing the opportunity to complete (via the Charter). Since there is no [legitimate by IOC Olympic Charter standards] national Olympic committee (NOC) in Iraq at this time, it only makes sense that no athletes could come to Beijing from that nation (the same action took place in 2000 when Afghanistan had a government-infused NOC that also was not in step with the IOC).

It is unfortunate, and sad, for Iraq's athletes who qualified thus far for Beijing, but if there is complaining in the works, it may be best to direct these complaints to the Iraq officials (who did not respond to IOC invitations to make necessary changes), rather than the IOC, for this lost opportunity. I have to wonder whether the White House realized how the Olympic Charter works before they commented on the situation.

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