Afghan president flags up UK’s Games ‘problem’

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is eager to attend the Olympic Games in London to support Iranian athletes but has claimed the UK has a “problem” hosting him.

He would like to be “beside Iranian athletes” in London but UK authorities are unwilling to have him there, Mr Ahmadinejad told the official IRNA news agency.

The UK is in a stand-off with Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is focused on producing an atomic weapon.

Iran denies the charge but the UK in 2011 cut ties with the country, closing its embassy in Tehran after militant Iranian students stormed the mission.

The raid followed a move by Iranian MPs to downgrade relations and allegations of hostile UK policies toward Tehran.

“I would like to be next to our young athletes at the 2012 Olympics but the host has a problem with this,” said Mr Ahmadinejad during a meeting with Iranian athletes who have qualified for the London games.

He did not specify whether he has officially requested to attend the games or say if the UK has refused him entry.

There was no immediate comment from the International Olympic Committee.

Mr Ahmadinejad’s remark can also be interpreted as a snub to his conservative hardline opponents in parliament who oppose restoring ties with the UK.

Last year Iran objected to the logo for the 2012 Olympics, contending it was racist because the symbol vaguely resembled the word “Zion,” according to Iranian authorities.

There was even a warning of a possible Iranian pullout of the games but that threat was later dropped.

Earlier this year Iran stopped exporting oil to the UK as a pre-emptive measure over the EU decision to impose an oil embargo over its nuclear ambitions. The oil embargo goes into effect in July.

So far some 50 Iranian athletes have qualified for the Olympics in sports including weightlifting, wrestling, shooting, track and field, and table tennis.