March 19, 2016 / 8:47 PM / in a year

Kuwait's ban over sports law is unfair, negotiator says

BERLIN (Reuters) - A ban imposed on Kuwait by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last year over what it says is government interference in the autonomy of sport is unfair, Kuwait's chief negotiator said on Saturday.

The two sides had talks in January that included the United Nations, to try to resolve the dispute over changes to a law that the IOC says is interfering with the autonomy of sport, but could not come to an agreement.

Kuwait was suspended from the Olympics in October 2015, for the second time in five years.

If the ban remains in place for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August Kuwaiti athletes will not be competing under their own flag but will have to do so under the Olympic flag.

Pere Miro, the IOC Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement, told Reuters on Friday that two draft agreements were agreed between the IOC and Kuwaiti representatives but were then rejected by the government who instructed their negotiators not to sign a deal.

Mohammad Alfili, who headed the Kuwait government negotiation team, said the proposed agreements were rejected because they insisted on changes to Kuwaiti legislation.

"We -- the negotiation delegation -- refused the proposal from the IOC because they requested that our delegation give approval for changing the laws of Kuwait," Alfili said in a statement titled "Unfair Olympic Ban" and sent to Reuters.

He said at no time had there been any agreement on a draft deal as that would have meant accepting IOC changes to the sports law.

"Kuwait is a democratic country with due process to follow –- if a law needs amending it must be voted on at the Parliament. Therefore, no delegation from our country has the right to approve such requests."

He said the Kuwaiti negotiation team had at no point agreed to any draft deal as Miro had said.

"It was clear that the IOC suspended Kuwait Olympic Committee on information that was misleading, to which we clearly explained what was meant by the latest amendments to the sports legislation," Alfili said.

The country's football federation has also been suspended by world soccer's governing body FIFA over government interference in the national football association.

"We are disappointed that the IOC and its Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement have made such claims against our country and our delegation," Alfili said.

"Because of such false statements from the IOC and especially from Mr. Pere Miro, we are questioning the negotiations with them."

Editing by Clare Fallon

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