Finally Iraq gets green light for Olympics

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Baghdad, Jul 31: The International Rowing Federation announced Wednesday, July 30 that Iraq's men's rowing double can participate in the Beijing Summer Olympics after all.

The International Olympic Committee revoked a ban on Iraq's Olympic team late Tuesday after an Iraqi government delegation pledged to hold free elections for its National Olympic Committee under international observation. IOC officials then said Iraq could send two track and field athletes to the Games, as the deadline for their entry into competitions had not passed.Iraq, however, missed last week's deadline for rowing, judo, archery and weightlifting.

But on Wednesday, the rowing federation's executive director, Matt Smith, said, "We called the IOC and asked if we could have the rowers back. . . We're very happy."

Haidar Nozad and Hamzah Hussein Jebur were allowed back in the men's double sculls because their places had not been given to competitors from other countries, Smith said.

"We were overwhelmed with pleasure," Jebur said.

Other officials said a weightlifter and an archer still might get the chance to compete if an athlete from another country dropped out of the Games.

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