The Iraq Olympic Committee have pulled the team from the event, according to a source in Baghdad, and the decision will leave officials needing to address an imbalance in the opening phase of the tournament. Last week the Asian Football Confederation conducted a redraw of the competition's group stage to add Palestine and the United Arab Emirates after the pair had been left off the original entry list. That meant two of the six groups swelled from four teams to five, but Iraq's withdrawal now means one group - containing China, Timor Leste and Syria - will feature just three countries. The Olympic Council of Asia, the organisers of the Asian Games, have yet to respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
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Most of Iraq's home matches are played at the Basra International Stadium. Iraq defeated some of the favourites in the competition including Australia , South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Iraq's team is famous across the continent, especially among West Asians, with passionate football fans, and the national team is also seen as a symbol for Iraq to fight against negative reputation that has hurt the country. Iraq won their first trophy in when they hosted and won the Arab Nations Cup , winning three and drawing one of their four games. The following year , they retained their Arab Nations Cup title, beating Syria 2—1 in the final. They finished second in their group , a point behind Australia , therefore failing to qualify for the next round.
Football at the Asian Games
Asian countries voted overwhelmingly tonight to exclude Iraqi athletic teams from the 11th Asian Games, a regional mini-Olympics scheduled to begin in Beijing on Saturday. The vote in the member Olympic Council of Asia was 27 for excluding Iraq and 3 against exclusion, with 5 abstentions and 1 invalid ballot. The decision was a particularly painful diplomatic defeat for Iraq because the members of the council are mostly third-world nonaligned nations, rather than Western powers whom Iraq blames for trying to isolate it.
The redraw was the second time the group phase of the competition had to be amended after organisers had not included the UAE and Palestine in the original selection when it was conducted in early July. Iraq's decision on Thursday not to compete threw up further complications for organisers, leaving only three teams in their group while two other groups - featuring the late additions from the UAE and Palestine - contained five nations. The football tournament at the Asian Games features teams comprising players aged 23 years of age and under, with coaches permitted to select three overage players.