Two draft proposals aimed at lifting Kuwait’s suspension from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been turned down by the country’s Government.
As it stands, Kuwaiti athletes would be unable to compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro under their flag and could participate only as independent athletes.
Both parties are keen to resolve the situation – caused when Kuwait were banned by the IOC for alleged Government interference – before the Opening Ceremony of Rio 2016 on August 5.
Each side, however, want it on their terms.
Two draft agreements were agreed between the IOC and Kuwaiti representatives following meetings in Geneva also attended by the United Nations, IOC deputy secretary general for relations with the Olympic Movement Pere Miró told Reuters.
These were rejected by the Government, who instructed the negotiators not to accept the proposals.
They claim this was because the IOC demanded changes to a national law for the ban to be lifted.
“We – the negotiation delegation – refused the proposal from the IOC because they requested that our delegation give approval for changing the laws of Kuwait,” chief negotiator Mohammad Alfili told Reuters in a statement entitled “Unfair Olympic Ban”.
“Kuwait is a democratic country with due process to follow – if a law needs amending it must be voted on at the Parliament.
“Therefore, no delegation from our country has the right to approve such requests.”
Kuwait was banned from the IOC last October for “undue Government interference” only three years after the lifting of a similar suspension shortly before London 2012.
This followed the coming into force of a new law which threatens the autonomy of the Kuwait Olympic Committee and all other National Federations, it is claimed.
The IOC have repeatedly said that the suspension will only be lifted if this law is revoked.
A total of 17 other International Federations also suspended Kuwait, including FIFA.
The law also reportedly affects Kuwait’s relationship with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Miró claims they had initially reached an agreement before the Government sent a new proposal to the UN that “had nothing to do with our discussions” and they could not accept.
The Kuwaitis deny this, however, and claim there was never consensus.
“We are disappointed that the IOC and its Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement have made such claims against our country and our delegation,” Alfilli told Reuters.
“Because of such false statements from the IOC and especially from Mr. Pere Miró, we are questioning the negotiations with them.”
Relations between international sport and the Kuwait Government have become increasingly hostile in recent months.
Kuwaiti Federations and sporting leaders, including Association of National Olympic Committees and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, have been handed fines and lawsuits for supposedly complying with the sports bodies.
Personal animosity between Sheikh Ahmad and his cousin Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs, is another important factor.
Sheikh Salman resigned as head of the Asian Shooting Confederation last year after in 2014 standing unsuccessfully against Mexico’s IOC member Olegario Vazquez Raña to become head of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), an election he lost by 165 votes to 128.
insidethegames exclusively reported on the eve of the election that he had been allegedly using his Government position to illegally collect votes.
Sheikh Salman, a key figure behind the new law in Kuwait, blamed Sheikh Ahmad for his defeat and for spreading these allegations.
If no consensus is reached, it is also possible the OCA could next month be forced out of their new headquarters building in Kuwait City.
- By Nick Butler
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz