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Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Taleban furious over Olympic 'snub'
Afghan in the Gym
No invitations have been issued to Afghan athletes
By Kate Clarke in Kabul

The Taleban's unrecognised Olympic committee has reacted furiously to the withdrawal of accreditation for two Afghan observers to go to the Sydney Olympics.

Afghanistan will be the only nation with no athletes at Sydney, because the International Community does not recognise the Taleban Government.

A week ago the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said two officials could go as observers.

But on Friday it withdrew the accreditation, accusing Taleban officials of misrepresenting the invitation.

Afghans excel at wrestling, boxing and Tai Kwondo
"It was unfortunate that these individuals, or someone on their behalf, suggested it was recognition by the IOC of their regime - and that is quite untrue," said IOC vice president Kevan Gosper said.

The Taleban's Olympic Committee has denied that it said the IOC accreditation for two observers amounted to recognition of their committee, or of the Taleban regime.

Several Afghan sportsmen would probably have been good enough to compete in Sydney.

Afghans have traditionally excelled in wrestling and boxing and are now doing well in Tae Kwon Do, a sport relatively new to the country.


One of the officials had been due to go to Sydney was the secretary general of the Taleban Olympic Committee, Khalid Mutma'in.

We urge the (IOC) authorities to retain their independence and not to give in to the pressure of countries that are opposed to the Taleban

Abdul-Shakoor Mutma'in
Mr Mutma'im accused the IOC of mixing sport and politics and said it was discriminating against Afghans on religious and racial grounds.

Another statement was issued by his brother, the president of the committee, Abdul-Shakoor Mutma'in, who said the withdrawal of the invitations brought discredit on the reputation of the IOC.

He said the committee had trampled on the rights of Afghan sportsmen in the first by not inviting them to the games.

Boxers' beards

The IOC's view, before the accreditation was withdrawn, had been that the invitations would to allow Afghans to meet sports' officials from other countries.

An IOC spokesman said the committee was keen to help Afghan sports people, technically and materially, if the IOC was invited to come to Kabul - but the issue of recognition was out of the IOC's hands.

Under its own rulebook, the IOC cannot deal with the national Olympic committee of a country whose government is not recognised by the United Nations, and he said that meant the IOC was not able to issue invitations for Afghan athletes to the Sydney games.

The spokesman said the issue had nothing to do with Taleban sports policy - for example, their ban on women playing sports, or not allowing boxers to shave, even though beards are banned by international boxing rules.

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See also:

10 Aug 00 | South Asia
Taleban's Olympic plea
26 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Police foil Sydney N-plant bomb plot
18 Aug 00 | South Asia
IOC rejects Taleban plea
18 Jul 00 | South Asia
A Taleban cut too far
12 Aug 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Soccer stretches Taleban rules
17 Jul 00 | South Asia
Football tour cut short
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