LAUSANNE, Jan 1, (AFP): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected a call by the Kuwaiti government to temporarily lift a 14-month sports ban while the Gulf State amends a controversial law. World sports bodies led by the IOC and football governing body FIFA suspended Kuwait in October 2015 for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sports.
Kuwait’s public sports authority had on Dec 23 written to the IOC and FIFA urging them to “lift the ban on Kuwaiti sports activities temporarily until relevant local laws are revised”. But in a letter addressed to the Kuwaiti government on Saturday the IOC said it “will not be in a position to reconsider the situation” until the country complies with a number of steps to become fully compatible with the Olympic Charter.
Kuwait’s sports authority had said it was making “serious and relentless efforts” to have the ban lifted and said parliament would set up a panel to draft amendments to the relevant laws. But their efforts failed to convince the IOC. “The situation has significantly deteriorated over the past months due to a number of decisions taken in violation of the principles and rules of the Olympic Charter which has constrained the IOC to react accordingly and to reiterate its position,” the letter to Kuwait’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah read.
The IOC also demanded the authorities immediately reinstate the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee and dissolve or dismiss any “parallel bodies/officers appointed by the Kuwait authorities that are not recognised by the IOC.” The IOC decision could impact one expected by FIFA on Jan 9 or 10 with the final deadline for Kuwait to be eligible to compete in the 2019 Asian Cup on Jan 11. The country has already missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and qualification for the 2018 World Cup. The Olympic Movement in Kuwait has faced a number of issues to preserve its autonomy, in particular due to recently amended sports legislations in Kuwait.
The IOC, in close collaboration with ASOIF, ANOC, the OCA and the International Federations concerned, has done everything possible to resolve the situation amicably. The dispute came after the IOC and world football governing body, FIFA , suspended Kuwait in October on grounds of government interference in sports. “It is totally unacceptable that Kuwait is treated in this unfair way and barred from international sports activities without any appropriate probe being conducted,” said Information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah in comments published on Thursday by the state-run Kuwait News Agency.