News / Middle East

Olympic Committee Warns Iran: Keep Hands Off Sports Bodies

An Iranian soccer fan reacts after Iran lost to Iraq in the second preliminary round of the Asian qualifiers for 2012 London Olympics, at Azadi (Freedom) stadium in Tehran, June 23, 2011.
An Iranian soccer fan reacts after Iran lost to Iraq in the second preliminary round of the Asian qualifiers for 2012 London Olympics, at Azadi (Freedom) stadium in Tehran, June 23, 2011.
David Byrd
The International Olympic Committee has sent Iran a second letter over perceived government interference in Iran’s National Olympic Committee. Last week, the IOC urged the Iranians to discuss the matter with relevant government authorities to make sure Iran was not in violation of the Olympic Charter.

The Charter specifically states “The NOCs must preserve their autonomy and resist all pressures of any kind, including but not limited to political, legal, religious or economic pressures which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic Charter.”

Ed Hula III is with aroundtherings.com, a website that covers only the Olympics and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He said that Iranian sports federation officials had been removed from their jobs because of government pressure.

“It’s believed that the authority of the leaders of the sports federations had been removed by the government, which is trying to exert undue influence onto them,” Hula said.

“The Olympic Charter expressly says that all sports bodies must be free of government interference, and the IOC was basically expressing its concerns over reports that it had heard and was reminding the [Iranian] government that sports bodies have to be free of government interference,” he added.

The Tehran Times reported that Iranian minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Mohammad Abbasi, had been summoned to parliament (majlis) to answer questions about the letter.The newspaper reported that in the last few months, the directors of several Iranian sports federations had been dismissed by the government without a General Assembly meeting, something that violates the principle of autonomy.

Hula said that continued government interference could lead to sanctions, though he admitted a ban from London is not likely.

“The IOC could - in theory - prevent the Iranians from competing under their flag at the Olympics,” he said. That’s the last ditch option.  At the Opening Ceremonies they would march under the Olympic flag instead of the Iranian one; if they won a medal, the Olympic flag would fly instead of the Iranian one and so on,” he said.

However, Hula admitted such sanctions are not likely to take effect - usually because National Olympic Committees comply with the IOC directives so no further action is needed.

“This is basically the first step that the IOC does take,” Hula said.  “It’s basically putting the ball in motion, and saying ‘look these are the rules, and we hope that you respect the rules and the Olympic Charter,’” he added. “It’s basically informing them so they know the consequences and what’s at stake.”

The warning comes as Tehran announced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to attend the London Games. News reports quote Iranian Olympic Committee Secretary General Bahram Afsharzadeh as saying that Ahmadinejad will fly to London July 26. Earlier reports had indicated the Iranian president would not go to the Games to protest plans to fingerprint and face-scan Olympic athletes and their coaches as they enter Britain for the Games.

The IOC letter also comes after Afsharzadeh complained that the U.K. has refused to grant visas to Iranian spectators headed to London. Press TV quotes the Iranian official as saying that even though visa applications were filed a year ago, no visas appear to have been issued.

However, Britain’s Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, said that visas from foreign nationals to attend the games are rejected only for a particular reason. Robertson told the insidethegames.biz website that anyone denied a visa is turned down for a specific reason, not because of where the application originates.

The issue was raised with Robertson last month after several Chinese citizens reportedly purchased Games tickets before discovering their visa applications had been rejected.

Relations between Britain and Iran have been strained since protesters stormed the British embassy in Tehran last year, ransacking offices and burning British flags in response to sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program. The embassy was subsequently closed.  In response, Britain shut Iran’s embassy in London and expelled its staff from the country.

Iran plans to send around 50 athletes to compete in the London Games, which begin July 27.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs