Symbols count, and in times of great uncertainty and distress, they can count a lot. Iraq has been reinstated by the International Olympic Committee and can now compete under its own flag:
- Iraq was reinstated by the IOC on Friday, clearing the way for Iraqi athletes to compete under their national flag at the Athens Olympics.
The IOC executive board lifted the suspension of Iraq's national Olympic committee, which was dismantled 10 months ago after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. The widely expected move came on the first day of a two-day board meeting.
....As many as two dozen Iraqi athletes are expected to compete at the Aug. 13-29 games in wrestling, track and field, swimming, boxing, weightlifting and taekwondo. The Iraqi soccer team also is attempting to qualify.
....The former Iraqi committee had been headed by Saddam's son Odai, who was killed in a shootout with U.S. troops in July.
A new Iraqi Olympic committee was elected Jan. 29. It is headed by Ahmed al-Sammarai, a former general and athlete who returned to Iraq last year after 20 years in exile.
The IOC suspended the Iraqi committee May 17 after the U.S.-led invasion. The IOC ethics commission confirmed accusations of abuse of athletes by Odai, who reportedly maintained a jail and torture chamber in the basement of the national Olympic committee headquarters in Baghdad. [AP]
For motivational purposes only, of course.
This is another step toward the normalization of Iraq, and while seemingly minor news in the midst of daily life and death turmoil, it can be a real rallying point for ALL Iraqis.