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Olympics should not miss out Iraq
14:30, August 08, 2008

"It does not matter what we will achieve at the Games, the important thing is we are here," said Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein on Monday night at the Beijing airport.

"I have realized my dream of competing at the Olympics, and I am extremely happy to come to Beijing," said the 21-year-old sprinter who will compete in 100 meters and 200 meters races.

Hussein is the only female of the four Iraqi athletes to attend the Beijing Olympics, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Iraqi athletes' participation to the Beijing Games on July 24. It lifted the ban five days later.

Their participation is a living example of the Olympic spirit and a symbol of people who refuse to give up the one dream shared by one world, even in pain and turmoil.

It would be a shame for the Olympics to miss out countries such as Iraq and athletes like Hussein as she has already faced many hardships preparing for the Games -- she was shot by a sniper while training, and caught in a drive-by shooting. Although she dresses modestly when competing -- wearing leggings under her shorts -- she has still received many threats from extremists.

A recent CNN report found Hussein's trainer, Yousif Abudul-Rahman, consoling her after the IOC banned the participation of Iraqi athletes by saying, "You can compete in 2012."

To which the sobbing Hussein responded, "Who can say if I'll even be alive in 2012?"

Fortunately, the IOC lifted the ban after Iraq pledged to hold free elections for its national Olympic committee under international observation.

"I'm proud that Iraqi athletes can be part of the Beijing Olympics," Iraq's ambassador to China Mohammad Ismail told Xinhua in a telephone interview on Tuesday, "It means a great success to all Iraqi people."

"I want to thank the global community, especially China, for their efforts in bringing Iraq back to the Games."

However, with only four athletes competing in Beijing, the possibility for Iraq to get medals during the Games is slim.

But the fact that Hussein, as well as other Iraqi athletes, overcame different hardships to come to the Games is the perfect embodiment of the Olympic spirit of striving to be swifter, higher and stronger.

The Olympics is an occasion every four years that brings different countries and people together for one pure purpose of sport.

A country missing the opportunity to take part in the Olympics loses a chance to exchange with and to be recognized by the rest of the world. An Olympic Games missing out a country, like Iraq, cannot achieve its goal in full.

"We come here not for the medals. What is important is that the Iraqi athletes took part in the Games, together with those from other countries," said Mohammad.

"What is important is that we are there with everyone else."


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