January 13, 2016 / 2:46 PM / 3 years ago

Kuwait sues own Olympic committee over international ban - newspapers

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait’s sports authority has filed a civil lawsuit against the country’s Olympic committee, local newspapers reported on Wednesday, accusing it of helping get the country officially banned from this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Last October the International Olympic Committee barred the small Gulf Arab country from participating in an Olympics for the second time in five years over government interference in the country’s 15-member Olympic committee.

Athletes of banned countries have in the past competed under the Olympic flag, and the IOC said Kuwait’s athletes themselves would not be affected if the ban remains in place until Rio.

The sports authority’s lawsuit accuses members of the committee of having submitted complaints about government interference to the IOC, thereby helping get the country banned, the daily newspaper al-Jarida reported.

The IOC had given Kuwait until Oct. 27 to change legislation it said challenged the independence of the country’s Olympic committee and sports associations but Kuwait took no action.

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

The Arabic-language al-Qabas daily said the Public Authority for Sports filed the lawsuit for initial damages of 5,001 Dinars ($16,400) for deliberately helping bring about the suspension.

Olympic committee chairperson Sheikh Talal al-Fahad and two other members of Kuwait’s ruling family - including influential sports power broker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah - were named as defendants in the case.

If successful, the case may open the way for another suit to recover more than 400 million dinars, the amount the sports authority says it has spent on sport over the last five years, according to al-Qabas.

The country’s football federation was also banned by world football’s governing body FIFA in December over government interference in the running of the Kuwait FA.

($1 = 0.3040 Kuwaiti dinars)

Reporting By Mahmnoud Harby; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Hugh Lawson

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