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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 23:26 GMT
Iraq's Olympic suspension lifted
By Harry Peart
BBC sports correspondent in Athens

Iraqi boxers in training
Iraq is expected to qualify in sports such as athletics and boxing
The International Olympic Committee has lifted the suspension of Iraq, enabling its athletes to compete at the Athens Olympics 2004 under the national flag.

The new Iraqi Olympic Committee was elected last month, and its return was ratified at a meeting in Athens.

The Committee's new chief, Ahmed al-Samarrai, said the body was starting from zero, but it was "the first step".

Iraq was suspended last May over allegations that Uday Hussein, Saddam's son, had tortured and abused athletes.

Some Iraqi athletes have already been identified as possible entries to the Athens games, and various countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, France and South Korea have offered training facilities.

Between seven and 27 Iraqi athletes are expected to complete.

"It's a hard job but we will do our best to prepare in the short period before the Games," said Mr Samarrai.

With the re-admission of Iraq the Olympic movement now has 202 national Olympic committees.

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