Rowing federation says Iraqi athletes welcome at Games

Updated: July 30, 2008, 11:34 AM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Two Iraqi rowers will be allowed to take part in the Beijing Olympics, the International Rowing Federation said Wednesday.

"We called the IOC and asked if we could have the rowers back and the answer just came through," the federation's executive director Matt Smith said. "We're very happy."

The two rowers, Haidar Nozad and Hamzah Hussein Jebur, were allowed back in the men's double sculls because their places had not been given to competitors from other countries, Smith said. "No one is kicked out," he said.

The International Olympic Committee readmitted Iraq to the Olympics on Tuesday, six days after the deadline to enter athletes for the rowing, judo, archery and weightlifting competitions had passed.

IOC officials had said then that Iraq would only be able to send two track and field athletes to Beijing due to a later deadline.

Officials at the international judo, archery and weightlifting federations say Iraqi athletes will not be able to compete in those sports as the places they lost last week have been given to other countries.

Dezso Dobor, a spokesman for the International Weightlifting Federation, said an Iraqi competitor might be placed on standby should an athlete from another country drop out, but could not confirm it would happen at this stage.

The entire Iraqi team was suspended from the Olympics in May after the IOC alleged government interference in the national Olympic body.

During last-minute talks Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Iraqi government delegation pledged to hold free elections for its national Olympic committee under international observation, prompting the IOC to rescind the suspension.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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