4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.
5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.1
It is well known that the International Olympics Committee has over the years been a aristocratic club, where royalty could hobnob with other dignitaries. Originally the selection of wealthy IOC members was purportedly because they would be above corruption to money. But some IOC members are not above corruption, as the 2002 Olympic Winter Games scandal revealed.2
With the corporatization of the Olympics, money has flowed and the attraction for some IOC members to accept bribes has grown.3
At the very least it might be expected that the elitist circle of IOC members might respect the hard training of athletes in preparation for the Olympics. It seems, however, that preserving the perks and prerogatives of the exclusive IOC club members trumps the dedicated effort of athletes.
The IOC has banned Iraqi athletes from competing reportedly because of the Iraqi government’s “political interference” in sports.
CCN reports the ban is because of an Iraqi government decision in May to suspend the nation’s Olympic Committee and form a temporary committee to handle its duties.4
The Iraqi government thought the committee had not been operating properly and as a result undermined the sporting movement there.
The Iraqi government complained that the original Iraqi IOC committee had been holding meetings without a quorum and had officials, many residing outside Iraq, serving over five years in one-year posts.
According to IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau, Iraq was suspended it removed elected officials and installed people the IOC wouldn’t recognize.
Whatever the reason in the dispute between the Iraqi government and the IOC, the IOC has chosen to penalize athletes innocent in this matter. Where is the Olympic spirit in this?
The IOC is violating its own Olympic Charter. It is denying what it maintains is a human right: “the practice of sport.” These athletes have qualified for the games, and yet they are banned to practice their sport for no wrongdoing on their part.
The Olympic Charter also holds that there must be no “discrimination with regard to a country.” But seven athletes are being banned because they are from Iraq.
Is this the Olympic spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play?
- International Olympic Committee, “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” in Olympic Charter: In force as from 7 July 2007. [↩]
- Six members of the IOC were expelled for accepting bribes over the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. “The Olympics Industry,” PBS, 19 February 1999. [↩]
- Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism (SUNY Press, 2000): 60. [↩]
- “Iraq banned from Summer Olympics,” CNN, 24 July 2008. [↩]