Athletes from Kuwait will be able to compete under their own flag in the Asian Games after the International Olympic Committee provisionally lifted the country's suspension, which had been in place for nearly three years.
The Asian Games open on Saturday in Jakarta. The Olympic Council of Asia, the governing body of Olympic sports for the region, said in a statement Friday it was "delighted with today's decision" taken by the IOC's executive board. The OCA statement said this will allow "Kuwaiti athletes to take part in the 18th Asian Games under the flag and anthem of Kuwait."
The suspension was imposed after the IOC accused Kuwait's government of interfering in Olympic sport in the country. The IOC says Kuwait's government has promised "fresh elections" for sports organization boards and also given a "clear undertaking ... not to obstruct the work" of the Kuwait Olympic Committee. The suspension can be re-imposed in October if the IOC board isn't satisfied with the changes. The suspension meant Kuwaiti athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had to compete under the title of "Independent Olympic Athlete." When Fehaid Al-Deehani won a gold medal in double trap shooting, the Olympic anthem played and the Olympic flag was raised. There was no repeat at this year's Winter Olympics because no Kuwaitis competed. Kuwait said its delegation at the Asian Games consists of 40 athletes and officials.