Olympics-IOC provisionally lifts Kuwait ban two days ahead of Asian Games

BERLIN, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday provisionally lifted a ban on Kuwait two days before the start of the Asian Games, allowing the country to participate under its own flag.

Kuwait’s national Olympic committee (NOC) has been banned since October, 2015 after the government was accused of interference with a new sports law.

As a result, Kuwaiti athletes had to compete under the Olympic flag at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 and they have no access to IOC funds.

“In the interest of Kuwaiti athletes and as a gesture of goodwill to recognise the progress accomplished, the IOC Executive Board has decided to provisionally lift the suspension of the KOC with immediate effect,” the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC said the reasons for the suspension remained valid, “in particular the need to protect the Olympic movement in Kuwait from undue government interference”.

But it noted progress in the discussions with Kuwait.

The Asian Games in Indonesia start on Saturday. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)