Kuwait has returned as a fully-recognised member of the Olympic Movement after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lifted a four-year suspension of its National Olympic Committee (NOC).
The Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) was first suspended by the IOC in October 2015 due to concerns over undue government interference after a sports law was passed that was deemed not compatible with the basic principles that govern the Olympic Movement.
There then followed a battle by Kuwaiti authorities to overturn the suspension, including the launch of legal action against the IOC seeking $1bn (€890.6m) in damages over the decision. The KOC was also issued a ban in 2010, but was reinstated prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In August 2016, the Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland rejected Kuwait’s case against the IOC, meaning that the country’s athletes competed under the Olympic flag as neutral competitors at that year’s summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Shooter Fehaid Al-Deehani made history as the first athlete to win a gold medal under the flag.
World football’s governing body Fifa had also suspended Kuwait in October 2015, but lifted this ruling in December 2017, saying that a new sports law brought the country in-line with its statutes. The IOC suspension remained in place, but the organisation on Friday said this has now ended following the successful implementation of a roadmap for reform.
The IOC said the first step of the roadmap, including the revision and adoption of new statutes for sports clubs, followed by elections, was successfully completed within the prescribed deadline of the end of January 2019.
The second step, revision and adoption of new statutes for national sports federations, followed by elections, was implemented in close coordination with the International Federations (IFs) concerned, and was successfully completed in early June.
The third and final step, revision and adoption of the KOC statutes, followed by KOC elections, was completed on June 30, with the holding of the KOC Elective General Assembly.
In August 2018, the IOC decided to provisionally lift the suspension of the KOC, acknowledging the progress made, which included the revision of the sports law and an agreement to establish a process for elections of all sports organisations in Kuwait.
Following this decision, which enabled the athletes to compete in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang and the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires under their country’s flag, a roadmap was established under the supervision of a Supervisory Committee appointed by IOC president, Thomas Bach.
Friday’s decision means the KOC will now have access to IOC funding.