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 Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - Zakaria Muhammed

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.

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