[Letter to the editor]FIFA, politics and athletic parity
The Doha Asian Games Organizing Committee announced recently that changes to the football tournament schedule have to be made following a FIFA decision to suspend the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Association from all International games.
One of FIFA’s rules states that national federations must be non-governmental organizations and they must not be interfered with by the government.
U.S. Senator Evan Bayh and a group his colleagues wrote a letter to Germany’s President Angela Merkel, asking her to ban Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad from attending the World Cup that Germany hosted earlier this year: “Events such as the World Cup provide an unusually large and diverse international audience. Before such an audience, we should make it clear that the international community will not tolerate Iran’s deadly threats to peace and stability in the Middle East,” they said.
FIFA had complained, setting a deadline to have changes made, but no one in Iran was listening, so the ban is a logical consequence.
In addition, the Iranian Navy test-fired ballistic missiles derived from North Korea’s stock of Rodong missiles immediately following the Proliferation Security Iniative excercises in the Persian Gulf, and kept firing air-to-ground missiles through Nov. 12, 2006.
Doha, Qatar, is just across the gulf from the IR Iran. The 2006 Asian Games are being held there Dec. 1-15. Qatar is the location of the largest American air force base outside the United States; US Navy ships made 500 port-calls nearby in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last year.
In principle, both North and South Korea had agreed to send a joint team to the Doha 2006 Games. That idea may be said to have foundered on the rock of athletic parity. North Korea’s tally, 2004 Athens Olympics: 4 silver, 1 bronze; 2002 Busan Asian Games: 9 gold, 11 silver, 13 bronze. South Korean athletes are strong in tennis; they are also strong in wrestling, cycling, sailing, shooting and taekwondo. In women’s archery, Park Sung Hyun and Lee Sung Jin took gold and silver at the Athens Olympics. South Korea’s tally: 2004 Athens Olympics, 9 gold, 12 silver, 9 bronze; 2002 Busan Asian Games: 96 gold, 80 silver, 84 bronze.
A unified Korean team competed separately in sporting events but marched under the Unification Flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.
Richard Thompson, Qingdao, China