Syria Olympic chief may be blocked from London 2012 Games
Wednesday 18 April 2012
Syria's Olympic chief could face being refused entry to Britain for the London 2012 Games.
General Mowaffak Joumaa, president of the Syrian Olympic committee, has been invited by the IOC to attend the London Games but he will have any application scrutinised by ministers who have the power to block him attending.
Joumaa is not on the EU banned list, unlike his country's leader Bashar Assad who was given a European travel ban following the violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, but he is a close aide of the Syrian dictator.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson confirmed that the Government has the power to block Joumaa coming to London.
Robertson told the Press Association: "The Syrian regime is now on the EU list but there is then a second level down, where anyone who applies for a visa for the Games who comes from a country where there might be questions raised goes in front of a committee where those cases are individually looked at.
"Any that are contentious come to ministers to sign off and we have the power to refuse anybody a visa."
The ultimate decision will be taken by the Home Office and the Foreign Office.
Asked if the Government could block Joumaa attending the Games, Robertson added: "We would have to talk to the IOC but yes of course we can.
"I think that might be a situation that is developing as we speak. We will have to see when his application comes through."
Meanwhile, Robertson said he had no power to intervene on Saudi Arabia's apparent refusal to allow any women athletes to compete under their flag in London but that he hoped the situation could be resolved.
Robertson added: "That's an issue for the IOC. There have been slightly conflicting signals coming out of Riyadh and there was a less promising statement a couple of weeks ago. The IOC are working on the issue and are going to try to find a way so that some Saudi women are able to compete.
"You are always balancing the conservative elements in Saudi Arabia against those who want to reach out.
"But of course I would very much like to see Saudi women competing in London."
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to come
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assistant/Event...
£23760 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobAre you a trai...