Kurdistan Olympic Committee suffers financial crisis
“If the government doesn’t help the KOC to overcome its problems, the KOC will shut its door and the staff will go home.”
The recently appointed head of the Kurdistan Olympic Committee (KOC), Dr. Salah Khasraw, urged the Kurdish Government for a quick response to the needs and demands of Kurdistan's sports federations, and to review the budget allotted for the sporting activities in the region.
In a ceremony where many old athletes received accolades from the Kurdistan Government's Ministry of Culture and Youths on December 26th, Khasraw shed light on the status-quo issues KOC is suffering from such as, the insufficient budget allocated for the Sports Federations, lack of sports infrastructure, and some other legal issues.
The ceremony was held in Divan Hotel in the Kurdish capital city of Erbil and 58 old athletes were honored. Since many sportspeople attended the ceremony, Khasraw found it as a good chance to illustrate some issues related to KOC.
"Many people don't understand fully about the tasks and the duties of KOC. KOC is a Civilian Institution but funded by the government. Lack of sports infrastructure and the financial problems the clubs are suffering from have nothing to with our job," explained Khasraw.
The annual budget allotted for KOC is 200 Million Iraqi Dinars (ID), which is supposedly spent for the sporting activities. In Kurdistan Region there are over 30 Sports Federations which are supervised by the KOC.
Khasraw thinks the budget is not enough and says if the government doesn't help KOC to overcome its problems, KOC will shut its door and the staff will go home.
He also said, "Erbil is the poorest city as far as sports infrastructure is concerned. We don't have even one good single hall for hosting sports activities. We can't really punish any sports federation for not being active because they have no halls to run their activities in. Unfortunately Erbil is behind all other cities in terms of sports infrastructure."
Kurdish sports clubs have gone through notable administrative and financial crises that have at times paralyzed the clubs' activities for having two Olympic committees expecting each other to respond to the sports officials' demands, and as a result most of the sports issues remain outstanding.
Thirty members of the general committee, 13 executive committee members, and four representatives in four provinces of Erbil, Kirkuk, Duhok, and Sulaimaniya comprise of the KOC organizational chart. The KOC supervises 30 sports federations in the region.
KOC wasn't established at once or with ease, but it needed considerable time to be recognized by the Iraqi Government. After the great 1991 Kurdish Uprising against the former regime, all governmental agencies including sports foundations withdrew from the Kurdistan Region. Formation of the first KRG Cabinet enticed political officials to establish a sports committee to fill the gap made after cutting off relations with the Iraqi sports foundations.
Equivalent to Iraq's Olympic Committee (IOC), the High Sports Committee was founded in Kurdistan. It continued working for almost 11 years, before in 2006 sports officials decided to change the committee's name to the Kurdistan Olympic Committee (KOC).
The KOC was headed by Mala Bakhtiyar, who also heads the Administration Committee of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan politburo for approximately 17 years. During that time the KOC was in no better shape than it is now. Bakhtiyar left many issues unsolved after his resignation.
Bakhtiyar's resignation was viewed differently by athletes and sportspeople. Some thought it was a good change in the history of Kurdistan sports. While some believe a political figure from one of the ruling parities is needed to head the KOC to better promote sports, while others think sports should be separated from politics.
Dr. Salah Khasraw, Kurdistan Olympic Committee Head.