Don't Hold Olympics Without Iraq - Michael Soussan, Wall Street Journal opinion
The decision last week by the International Olympic Committee to ban Iraq from participating in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing reflects far more negatively on the committee itself than on Iraq. The country's sin, as described by the IOC, is to have changed the members of its national Olympic committee, awarding posts based on local political loyalties. This is an interesting accusation -- given that the previous chief of Iraq's Olympic effort was Uday Hussein, the son of Iraq's former dictator. If Uday Hussein was acceptable to the IOC, why is the committee up in arms about the Iraqi government's decision to reshuffle its Olympic management team? The answer is that Iraq's new Olympic managers have not yet been accredited by the IOC. What will it take to get them accredited? Will they have to start torturing their athletes the way Uday used to do, when they failed to perform to his liking? There is a lot more at stake here than the bruised egos of IOC bureaucrats -- who for the most part, owe their own appointments to political connections within their national governments. The mission of the International Olympic Committee is to provide support and coordination for an event that aims to bring nations together through sports. And Iraqi athletes have, in recent years, overcome overwhelming odds for a chance to join in the Games.