ATHENS, Greece The IOC provisionally suspended Iraq's national Olympic committee on Wednesday for "political interference," a decision that leaves Iraqi athletes in danger of missing the Beijing Games.
The International Olympic Committee executive board took the action following the Iraqi government's recent dissolution of the national Olympic body and appointment of an interim group chaired by the minister of sport.
"The Iraqi national Olympic committee is suspended on a provisional basis ... as a protective measure due to the interferences from the Iraqi government authorities," the IOC said in a statement.
The IOC said it does not recognize any interim committee and supports only the "legitimately elected" body.
It called on the Iraqi government to "analyze the situation and find appropriate solutions" in line with the rules of the Olympic Charter.
"The IOC will continue to look for ways to help Iraqi athletes, although the situation created by the Iraqi government authorities makes the task very difficult," it said.
The IOC did not say whether it would consider allowing any Iraqi athletes who qualify for Beijing to compete in the Aug. 8-24 Games under the Olympic flag.
"Today it is not clear," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "It depends on if a solution can be found, which we certainly hope it can."
The Iraqi government ordered the dissolution of the national body on May 20. It claimed the committee was illegitimate because it could not reach a quorum since four of its 11 members, including chairman Ahmed al-Hijija, were kidnapped in Baghdad in 2006. There has been no word on their fates.