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Iraqi Athletes To Compete at Beijing Olympics

Lausanne, Switzerland � An agreement between the Iraqi government and the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday clears the way for Iraqi participation in the Olympic Games in Beijing.

In a productive meeting at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, the IOC and the Government of Iraq agreed on a series of steps that will lead to a fully functioning, independent National Olympic Committee in Iraq. The agreement re-establishes the independent NOC of Iraq which will be allowed to take part in the Beijing Games.

Iraqi athletes will compete in Beijing under the Iraqi flag, led by coaches and team leaders selected by the independent Iraqi National Olympic Committee. Five government representatives will be invited by the IOC as observers to the Games in Beijing. The agreement also calls for the transparent and fair election of a new, independent Iraqi National Olympic Committee, no later than the end of November 2008. This process will be overseen by the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia and will be held in cooperation with the Government of Iraq, and in accordance with the Olympic Charter.

The IOC responded on 4 June by suspending the government-imposed committee. The IOC urged Iraqi officials to resolve the matter and issued an open invitation for a meeting in Lausanne.

The deadline for competitors entering the Beijing Olympic Games for all events except athletics passed on 23 July. As a result, the slots for five Iraqi athletes have been redistributed, but two Iraqi athletics competitors will have the opportunity to compete in Beijing. /IOC/