BEIRUT

Olympics

Syria Olympic head would welcome ban from games

DAMASCUS: Syrian Olympic Committee head Gen. Mowaffak Joumaa says he hasn't been officially banned from attending the London Games, and dismissed media statements that Britain won't grant him a visa as a "fabricated media campaign."

An official involved in the Olympic movement told The AP on Friday that Britain has refused to give Joumaa a visa because of his links to Syria President Bashar Assad's regime.

In a statement issued by al-Baath newspaper on Tuesday, Joumaa said if such a ban was issued, "it would be an honor for me as a Syrian citizen who loves his people and homeland."

"If Britain issues such a decision under political pretexts and other illusions and justifications, then its objective will be to pressure Syria in all fields, including sports."

He stressed that sports, like anything else in Syria, was subject to pressures and conspiracy "to undermine the steadfastness and unity of the Syrian people."

However, he said, all Syrian athletes stood behind the process of reforms and modernization led by Assad.

About 10 Syrian athletes are due to compete in London.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged the Syrian athletes won't be banned.

 

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