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The Ioc Turns A Cold Shoulder To Iraq

As you may have heard, the International Olympic Committee yesterday banned Iraq's seven Olympic athletes from competing in Beijing, the result of an ongoing dispute stemming from the Iraqi government's decision in June to disband its Olympic committee and replace it with a group more closely tied to the government. Aaron Zelinsky over at the Sports Law Blog makes some good points in arguing against the IOC's decision. It's particularly perverse that the IOC had no problem with Iraqis participating when the country's Olympic program was a torture-ridden personal fiefdom of Uday Hussein, but is now using petty bureaucratic squabbling as a pretext for prohibiting Iraqis from competing. No doubt there are times when athletes, sadly, must be excluded from the games for political reasons--South Africans during the apartheid era, for instance--but it's just hard to see how this rises to that level. And with Iraq's soccer team now eliminated the 2010 World Cup after a disappointing 1-0 loss to Qatar last month (a draw would have sent them through to the final round of qualifying), it's a particularly painful blow to Iraqi sports.

--Josh Patashnik