08 Jun 2005
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne has recently received one of the most symbolic donations. Ahmed Al-Samarrai, Iraqi NOC President, and Tiras Odisho-Anwaya, Director General, presented the Museum with two official outfits, green and white shorts and T-shirts, worn by the Iraqi football team on the occasion of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens last year.
Signed by all the players
The clothes were signed by the whole team present in Greece. The Iraqi team, despite the difficult situation in their country, qualified for the Olympic tournament and even reached the semi-finals. The team were finally beaten by Italy.
An NOC in turmoil
The rise of the Iraqi football team to the semi-finals proves that sport keeps a privileged place in the heart of men even in a country devastated by war. The Iraqi NOC had not escaped the turmoil and was excluded from the Olympic Movement in May 2003 following serious accusation against its President.
So that sport lives on
Since then, the IOC had made every effort to restructure the institution to allow the athletes to take part in the Athens Games. It worked with the relevant authorities in the country and sent two missions to Iraq. At the end of January 2004, the Iraqi National Olympic Committee was reconstituted in Al-Sulaymaniyah in the north of the country.
25 Iraqi athletes at the Athens Games
A number of athletes identified as being likely to qualify for the Games were then able to go to training camps and continue their preparation. On 28 February, at its meeting, the Executive Board lifted the suspension imposed on the Iraqi NOC. Thus, on 13 August 2004, 25 Iraqi athletes marched under the flag of their country.