Kuwait ban remains in force as ties with IOC deteriorate

Wed Dec 9, 2015 10:45am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Kuwait's Olympic ban will remain in force with ties between the Middle Eastern nation and the International Olympic Committee deteriorating, the IOC said on Wednesday.

Kuwait was banned in October for the second time in five years over government interference in the country's Olympic committee but efforts to find a solution have failed, said IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey, in charge of overseeing the autonomy of sport for the Olympic body.

"We have had an exchange of letters (with the government) which have not been very helpful," Hickey told reporters. "Since we suspended them, 13 international federations have followed suit and more is to come."

"It has become very personal with the minister of sport. He is now threatening to ban athletes from international events," Hickey said.

He added that work was continuing to try and settle the issue as the ministry has also ordered the Olympic Council of Asia to vacate its headquarters in Kuwait by April 2016. The head of the OCA is Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, an influential IOC member.

"I met with the (sports) minister (Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah) here in Lausanne. He is a very intelligent man but he is determined this has become a personal issue. He cannot see reality. We have to try to make him see what reality is," Hickey said.

Kuwait was also banned in 2010 over a similar dispute but was reinstated before the 2012 London Olympics.

The country's soccer federation was also banned by world soccer's governing body FIFA earlier this month over government interference in the running of the Kuwait FA.   Continued...

Oct 29, 2015; Washington, USA; Patrick Hickey, ANOC senior vice president and president of the European Olympic Committees, poses on the blue carpet prior to the 2015 ANOC Awards at DAR Constitution Hall. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports