The Olympic Council of Asia, facing threats of an Arab boycott of the Beijing Asian Games, voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to bar Iraq from the Games and expel it from the council over the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, officials said.
The chief Iraqi delegate angrily denounced the vote as fixed, but said his nation saw no point in appealing."This was a victory for everything illegal," said the Iraqi chief delegate, Abdul Karim al-Mulla, after the vote. "This is our great sorrow."
The vote was the latest show of international outrage against Baghdad over the Aug. 2 invasion, in which OCA President Fahad al Ahmad al Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, was killed by Iraqi troops as they stormed into the oil-rich emirate.
The move, two days before the Games open Saturday, also dashed the hopes of host China to keep the Games free of political disputes. The quadrennial Asian Games staged between Olympics will last for two weeks.
The possible presence of the Iraqis has all but overshadowed the Chinese government's euphoric propaganda on the Games, the first major international sports event hosted by communist China.
Wu Zhongyuan, spokesman for the Beijing Asian Games Organizing Committee, announced that OCA voted overwhelmingly for the proposal to bar Iraq from the Games and expel it from OCA following the council meeting at the downtown Beijing Hotel.
He said the vote was 27-3, with five abstentions and one invalid vote. The OCA has 38 member nations and territories, and two nations were not present.
"The organizing committee will abide by the decision," Wu said.