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Slim Chance Remains for Iraqi Olympians


The International Olympic Committee says there is a slim chance that two Iraqi athletes could compete at next month's Olympics in Beijing, but only if the Iraqi government stops interfering with the Youth and Sports Ministry.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau says that the deadline for finalizing athletics competitors is Wednesday. That means that Iraq could still enter a discus thrower and a sprinter. However, Moreau said the deadline has passed for five other team members - in archery, judo, rowing and weightlifting.

An Iraqi delegation traveled to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday to try to resolve the impasse. An advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sport said his country would not change its decision to replace several members of the Olympic Committee.

The IOC suspended Iraq because of what it called ongoing political interference by the government in the sports movement in Iraq. The IOC move came after the Iraqi Council of Ministers dismissed the national Olympic Committee and appointed an interim committee chaired by the minister of sport.

The Iraqi government said last month that the Olympic Committee was dissolved because it did not have enough members for a quorum and elections have not been held in five years. The head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, Ahmed Al-Samarrai, was kidnapped in July of 2006 and has not been heard from since.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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