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Beijing Organizers Regret Absence Of Iraq At Olympics

BEIJING -- Beijing organizers have expressed regret that Iraqi athletes will not be able to take part in next month's Olympics after the suspension of the country's National Olympic Committee (NOC).

The Iraqi government disbanded the NOC in May because of a dispute over how it had been assembled. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) set a deadline for its reinstatement but the government did not back down and the ban was confirmed on July 24.

"The IOC has made its decision according to its regulations," Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), said. "It is an internal affair of the IOC. BOCOG regrets that the Iraqi athletes will not take part in the Beijing Games."

The IOC's Olympic Charter forbids political interference in the Olympic movement and provides for the suspension of an NOC in the event "any governmental body...causes the activity of the be hampered."

At least seven Iraqi athletes -- two rowers, a weightlifter, sprinter, discus thrower, judoka, and an archer -- had earned places in Beijing.