Iraq boycotts regional basketball tournament over snub
(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Iraq announced Sunday it will boycott an international club basketball tournament to protest a decision to shift the contest from Baghdad over security concerns.
Hosting the West Asian Basketball Champions Cup on March 12-16 in the capital was meant to symbolise the conflict-hit nation's return as an international venue after almost 40 years in the wilderness.
But organisers ruled Thursday to move the club competition from Baghdad to Jordan's capital Amman "for security reasons".
In response Iraq's basketball federation announced Sunday in a statement that it "deplored" the move and therefore "decides not to participate".
"We will not sit idly by at this injustice after we have made extraordinary efforts since we were chosen to host this tournament," it said.
"This is the first time that Iraq had been preparing to host this competition after being unable to do so for years because of the blind terror that has hit it."
Iraq has been rocked by conflict for decades dating from the war with Iran in the 1980s, through the 2003 US-led invasion and up to the fight against the Islamic State group.
The country has now found relative peace after the jihadists were defeated but is still regularly hit by deadly terror attacks.
A double suicide bombing in the centre of Baghdad on January 15 killed 31 people.
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