Iraqi Teams Banned From Beijing Olympic Games

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi athletes won't be allowed to compete in next month's Beijing Games.

The International Olympic Committee has upheld a ban on Iraqi teams, saying the government missed the deadline to address accusations of political interference.

In May, the government dissolved the National Olympic Committee. Among the claims was that it was illegitimate because it lacked a legal quorum -- but four members of the committee were kidnapped two years ago and their fates are unknown.

The International Olympic Committee denounced the order as
"serious interference" in what is supposed to be an independent body, and demanded the government respect the NOC's autonomy.

Five Iraqi athletes were expected to compete this year. Their places will be offered to athletes from other countries.