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Last updated at 10:43 BST, Monday, 06 August 2012

Iraq's former Olympic president


03 August 2012

A renewed call has been made for the release of the former President of Iraq's National Olympic Committee. Ahmed Sammarai was kidnapped in 2006, as were the majority of committee members. His wife is now in London urging the IOC to revive its efforts to seek his release - and for justice to be done.


David Eades

Jacques Rogge

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge


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Almost two years before construction on London's Olympic Park even started, Ahmed Al Sammarai was kidnapped as he presided over a meeting of the Iraqi Olympic Committee. Gunmen took 38 officials in all, before releasing 13. 25 have never been seen since.

What followed was a statement of condemnation from the IOC's President Jacques Rogge and a demand for answers. 18 months later, Iraq was suspended from the Olympic Movement for government interference. But it was reinstated in time for the Beijing Games, and has eight athletes in London.

Mr Al Sammarai's wife, Niran, believes her cause has become an embarrassment for the Olympic Movement. She is urging President Rogge to reinvigorate the campaign for freedom and justice for all 25 held.

In a statement, the IOC said the President had met her and continued to follow the situation closely and offer any help it could. But the meeting took place nearly five years ago. Niran Al Sammarai doesn't know if her husband is alive or dead; but she continues to believe he can be found - only if the IOC takes a lead challenging the Iraqi Government for answers.


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presided over

chaired or sat in in a position of authority at


strong disapproval


temporarily prevented


restored to its former position


motive or issue

an embarrassment

an awkward issue

to reinvigorate

to put new energy and effort in to


legally fair and reasonable treatment


putting pressure on


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