IOC bans Kuwait; cites government interference

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For the second time in a span of five years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended Kuwait due to political interference recently, leaving the country’s athletes participation in the Rio de Janeiro Games next year hanging.

The IOC executive board handed the ban on Kuwait’s national Olympic committee in order to “protect the Olympic Movement in Kuwait from undue government interference.”

It was Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who heads the global association of national Olympic committees, as first reported by The Associated Press last week, who told of the Gulf country’s suspension.

This comes after Kuwait failed to make changes to its disputed sports legislation by the imposed deadline last October 27 set by the IOC.

Soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, also barred Kuwait’s national association two weeks ago for the same infraction. Kuwaiti teams and clubs are barred from joining international competition, and the association and its members will not be receiving any FIFA development assistance.

IOC and Kuwaiti officials held talks in Lausanne, Switzerland last October 12. The IOC gave last Tuesday as a deadline for all issues to be resolved but this was not met.

The suspension means Kuwait will not be allowed to take part in “any activity connected with the Olympic Movement or exercise any right conferred upon it by the Olympic Charter or the IOC.”

Along with this, all IOC funding to Kuwait will be discontinued.

Should the suspension stand, all Kuwaiti athletes may be allowed to see action in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, but under the Olympic flag.

With just nine months to go before the Summer Games, Kuwait is racing against time for its reinstatement.

In 2010, Kuwait was also suspended by the IOC, also due to government interference. It was reinstated two years after before the London Games after Kuwait’s leader, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, vowed Olympic autonomy and that new legislation will be in place for the different institutions governing sports.

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