On Sunday, Saddam Hussein celebrated his 65th birthday. However, most citizens rejoiced due to another reason: the Olympic Games came to Baghdad, the Olympic Games of Saddam.
The event has mostly been neglected by Russian and Western mass media, while, in one of the hottest spots of the world, sportsmen from 72 countries arrived.
According to the Novaya Gazeta weekly, the games included seven the most popular kinds of sport in Iraq: football, Greco-Rome wrestling, volleyball, free standing exercises, shooting, boxing, and table tennis. The games are held yearly (since 1998) and are dedicated to Saddam Hussein’s birthday. The sponsor of the games is the Baghdad Russian-Iraqi Friendship Society. It should be mentioned that the athletes' stay in Baghdad is fully paid for by Iraq.
This event is interesting because Russian sportsmen participates in these games for the first time. According to the Russian delegation’s leader, Deputy Chief of the Moscow Sport Committee’s Sport Office Andrei Goryachev, 25 Russian athletes participates in the Olympic Games, not taking into account trainers and officials. Russian sportsmen intend to win medals in boxing, free standing exercises, shooting, and table tennis. The delegations that came to the games obviously shows its support to the long-suffering Iraqi people. Therefore, it is pleasant that, among that athletes, there are also Russian citizens.
The Iraqi President does not intend to limit himself with only these Olympic Games. Last month, Iraq joined to the fight to hold the 2012 Olympic Game by preparing an official application to the International Olympic Committee (while these will be anniversary games, the 30th ones). Hussein is very serious about these plans. In particular, the Iraqi authorities intend to build a stadium to seat 100-thousand people in Baghdad, which should become the center of the city.
Sergei Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/27/40439.html