Athletes from Iraq have been banned from taking part at this summer's Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee has announced.Fine so far as it goes. But some of teh athletes could have competed under the Olympic flag had this decision come sooner:
The team was already the subject of an interim ban after the Iraqi government replaced the country's Olympic committee with its own appointees.
Under the IOC charter, all committees must be free of political influence.
As a result the team of two rowers, two sprinters, one archer, one weightlifter and one judo competitor cannot attend.
"We sent a letter to the Iraqi government today saying that as the situation stands today it is unlikely to have Iraqi athletes at the Beijing Games," said IOC spokesperson Emmanuelle Moreau.
BBC Radio 5 Live sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar added: "The four Iraqi athletes that qualified could have competed under the Olympic flag but the deadline for confirmation of places has passed."I would hope that the IOC would make an exception to allow these althetes to compete even though politics, both internal in Iraq and at the IOC don't make their training and sacrifices amount to nothing but wasted time.