Kuwait has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a second time to to protect the country from “undue Government interference”, it was confirmed today.
A deadline set by the IOC to amend a new law in the Gulf country expired today and the issue has not been resolved.
The law threatens the autonomy of the Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) and all other National Federations, it is claimed, while also meaning the country would no longer comply with the Court of Arbitration for Sport or the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Football’s world governing body FIFA suspended the Kuwait Football Association for the same reasons earlier this month, while the KOC were suspended before in 2010, again for Government interference.
A meeting took place here this morning ahead of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly, insidethegames understands, with a decision made afterwards to introduce an immediate suspension, effective from today.
The KOC is thus not entitled to participate in any activity connected with the Olympic Movement or exercise any right conferred upon it by the Olympic Charter or the IOC.
This includes, in particular, any activity organised by associations of NOCs to which the KOC is affiliated, presumably including future editions of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Games following the conclusion of this year’s event in in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, yesterday.
All financial assistance via either the IOC or Olympic Solidarity will be withdrawn from the KOC.
In a statement today, the IOC expressed its hopes that “all concerned parties will soon reach a satisfactory solution to rectify this very unfortunate situation in the interest of the Olympic Movement in Kuwait and the athletes’ participation in the numerous international sporting events coming up, in particular the Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016”.
The country was previously banned for two years before being reinstated in 2012 but the new ban would mean that Kuwait’s athletes could not compete under their own flag if it is still in place before next summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
This follows a meeting in Lausanne earlier this month in which Kuwaiti 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 led by Executive Board member and autonomy tsar Patrick Hickey, along with director of NOC Relations, Pere Miró.
Sheikh Salman, the minister considered responsible for the new legislation, is also President of the Asian Shooting Confederation and last year stood unsuccessfully to replace Mexico’s Olegario Vazquez Raña as head of the International Shooting Sport Federation.
Others involved in the meeting included Association of Summer Olympic Sports Federations director general Andrew Ryan, who represents the International Federations, Olympic Council of Asia 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”.
insidethegames was told afterwards, however, this process is expected to take a matter of months rather than weeks, meaning the ban is expected to come into place until the situation is resolved, hopefully before Rio 2016.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti head of the ANOC, has no official role with the KOC.
Nick Butler; This article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz