Iraq’s Country Profile
Official country name: Republic of Iraq
Area: 168,754 sq miles (437,072 sq km)
Population: 27.5 million (2007 est.); as of April 2007, 2.2 million to 2.4 million Iraqi refugees lived abroad, according to the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index.
Median age: 20
Ethnic Groups: Arab 75 to 80 percent, Kurdish 15 to 20 percent, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5 percent
GDP and GDP per capita: $48.5 billion and $1,687 (2006 estimates)
Read a complete country profile of Iraq
Iraq’s Olympic History
First time represented at Summer Olympics: 1948
Gold medals won: 0
Medals at 2008 Beijing Olympics: 0
Iraq’s Olympic Playbook
Iraq has had a rough go of if, for obvious reasons—though it’s not just the war, the 4 million refugees, the fly-by-night assassinations: Back in 2006, up-and-coming soccer star Ghanim Ghudayer was kidnapped not long after signing with a Syrian soccer team, and in 2007 two soccer players in Ramadi were killed in front of their teammates during a practice, supposed retaliation by gunmen for the players’ alleged collaboration with Americans. And in July 2006, the head of the committee, Ahmed al-Samarrai, was kidnapped in Baghdad along with several associates, never to be heard since. As if that’s not enough Iraq has had to contend with the reliably dogmatic International Olympic Committee.
The IOC banned Iraq from the 2008 Olympics in June when Iraq’s official Olympic committee disbanded and replaced by a group the IOC did not recognize. Only in the last week of July, 2008, was Iraq’s eligibility reinstated, opening the way for four, maybe seven athletes, to compete in Beijing. It’s a shame that the contingent is so small. Four years ago in Athens, Iraq’s soccer team went all the way to the semi finals.
One of the athletes to watch in Beijing is Dana Hussein (no relation to Saddam), the only woman on the Iraqi contingent, who’ll be competing in the 100 and 200 meters. “I was shot at here by a sniper in this stadium,” she told the Associated Press while training in a rutted stadium in Baghdad, “and I wasn't killed because, thank God, I happened to be running.”
Iraq’s Athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Hamzah Hussein Jebur
Track & Field/Athletics
sprinter Dana Hussein