Syrian Olympic Committee Head Denied Visa to England: Gen. Mowaffak Joumaa too close to Assad
Members of Syria's Olympic team have said they hope that representing their compatriots at the London Games will bring a small amount of happiness to the war torn country. The vice-chairman of the country's Olympic committee said that the problems at home had only increased athletes' determination to achieve success at the Games. 400 metres hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad: "My feeling is of happiness, because it is the dream of every athlete to be in such a sporting event. So, yes, I am very happy and hopefully I will do something for my country and raise the flag for my country." Syria has sent a 26-member delegation to the Olympic Games, including 10 athletes, nine coaches and seven government officials. However General Mowaffak Joumaa, chairman of the Syrian National Olympic Committee, was denied a visa to travel to Britain for the games as he was regarded as a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing mounting international criticism over his regime's bloody crackdown on opponents. The visa denial triggered anger among some Syrians who said that the organisers were not respecting Syria's sovereignty.