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IOC: Kuwait ‘aggravating’ tensions after Olympic ban – Committee claims new sports law tightens govt control

RIO DE JANEIRO: The International Olympic Committee on Friday accused Kuwait’s government of “aggravating” the tensions that led to the country’s ban from the Rio Olympics.

New and proposed laws on state controls over sporting bodies have led the IOC and world football body FIFA to suspend Kuwait since last October.

The Kuwait government has in turn condemned the IOC and recently sought $1 billion in damages in a Swiss court, which was rejected. The IOC said in a letter to the Kuwait government, which was seen by AFP, that a new law passed in June tightens state control over sports bodies, rather than loosening it.

The letter said that “contrary to what has been suggested in a number of public statements… (the law) increases significantly the power of the government authorities to interfere with the internal operations” of sports organizations. Kuwait has since offered a new law, but the IOC rejected the draft.

The letter added: “We have noted with great disappointment that it has been decided to issue a new law – without any prior consultation with the sports organizations – which in fact is aggravating the situation.” Because of the showdown, Kuwaiti athletes at the Rio Olympics have competed as neutrals under the IOC flag.

Fehaid Al-Deehani won the men’s double trap gold and Abdullah Al-Rashidi, wearing an Arsenal shirt, scooped a bronze in the men’s shooting skeet.

Kuwaiti leaders have praised the medal-winners without offering any concession in the battle with the IOC. The state has now been suspended twice by the IOC since 2010 over political interference.

FIFA has frozen its membership three times since 2008. A UN envoy and foreign governments have sought to act as intermediaries in the latest dispute, without success.

The Olympic Council of Asia has its headquarters in Kuwait and several members of the ruling family have sought roles in world sport. — AFP

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