Kuwait Facing Fresh Ban from International Olympic Committee if Autonomy Not Respected
Kuwait has been given a deadline of October 27 to change a new law which threatens the independence of sports bodies, or face another ban from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following a meeting here between all stakeholders.
This follows the proposal of a new sports law due to come into force later this month which, as well as threatening the autonomy of the Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) and other National Federations, would also mean the Gulf nation no longer complies with either the Court of Arbitration for Sport or the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Kuwait Government officials led by Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homud Al-Sabah met with an Olympic Movement delegation here at the IOC headquarters led by Executive Board member and autonomy tsar Patrick Hickey, along with director of NOC Relations, Pere Miró,
Others involved included Association of Summer Olympic Sports Federations director general Andrew Ryan, who represents the International Federations (IFs), Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Husain Al-Musallam and KOC President Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Sabah.
Kuwaiti officials agreed to immediately set-up a Working Group “between all concerned parties to address and resolve the issues” identified during the meeting “with a view to making them fully compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic Charter and the statutes of the IFs.”
The IOC is “hoping that all concerned parties will act responsibly to complete this process in time, in the interest of the Olympic Movement in Kuwait and the athletes”.
But insidethegames understands that more time was requested to discuss a potential modification to the law, with this being denied by the IOC.
It therefore appears likely a ban will come into place until the situation is resolved, something that it is hoped would happen before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The situation represents a sense of déjà-vu after Kuwait was suspended from the IOC in January 2010 for the same reason.
Athletes competed at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics that year in Singapore independently under the Olympic Flag before the situation was resolved ahead of London 2012.
But the membership of Kuwaiti National Federations within IFs has also been threatened, with football governing body FIFA having warned of a suspension following an Executive Committee meeting on September 25 “if nothing is done by 15 October 2015 to avoid the implementation of the new law due to come into force on October 27”.
Kuwait was also banned by FIFA for Government interference in 2007 and 2008.
Kuwait’s FIFA Executive Committee member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, the brother of Sheikh Talal who also heads the OCA and Association of National Olympic Committees, was not present at the meeting here but can also be expected to be playing a role behind the scenes.
Last month, the Kuwait Handball Association (KHA) was also suspended by the International Handball Federation for failing to organise an elective General Assembly.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.