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Iraq, IOC agree on new electoral process

Aug. 11, 2008, 3:03 p.m. (ET)

BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq's government and the International Olympic Committee agreed Monday on a process to govern the election of a new Iraqi Olympic body after a dispute prevented some Iraqi athletes from competing in the Beijing Games.

The agreement, reached on the sidelines of the games in Beijing, is the latest chapter in the three-month dispute between Iraq and the IOC.

It began when Iraq's Shiite-led government dismissed the country's national Olympic committee, accusing its members of corruption and replacing them with a team led by a Cabinet minister. The committee had included several holdovers from the Saddam Hussein era, when Sunni Arabs had the greatest role.

The IOC said the move amounted to government interference and in May suspended Iraq's membership.

A compromise reached late last month allowed Iraqi athletes to participate in Beijing, but it was too late for some of them because entry deadlines for their sports had passed.

Only four Iraqi athletes of the original seven are representing the country in Beijing.

Under the latest agreement, Iraq will organize elections among athletes and officials for the country's national sports federations. Those elected will in turn elect members of a new national Olympic committee, according to a statement issued by the government in Baghdad.

Iraq's Independent Election Commission, judiciary and the IOC will supervise the election, according to the statement.

"The Iraqi government is keen to have elected Iraqi sports federations and an Iraqi National Olympic Committee in a transparent, democratic and fair way," Monday's statement said. It did not say when the vote for the sports federations or the national Olympic committee would be held.