KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait said Thursday it will sue the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland for $1 billion, the latest twist in an ongoing struggle that's blocked athletes from competing under the Kuwaiti flag at this year's games in Rio de Janeiro.
The comments by Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman al-Homoud Al Sabah, carried by the state-run Kuwait News Agency, comes after the IOC suspended the Kuwaiti Olympic body in October on grounds of government interference in sports.
In response, Kuwait filed a lawsuit in January in local courts against 14 board members of its Olympic committee seeking $1.3 billion. That lawsuit accused the members of corrupting the Olympic movement in Kuwait and interfering in sports affairs.
This new lawsuit will further widen the rift between the Kuwait government and the IOC, making lifting the suspension before the Rio games even less likely. In a meeting earlier this month, the IOC's executive board authorized Kuwaiti athletes to compete as individuals under the Olympic flag if they qualify.
In his comments carried Thursday, Sheikh Salman called the IOC decisions "totally unacceptable."
Kuwait "showed a sincere desire to cooperate, but all to no avail," he said. "We were put in an embarrassing situation in the eyes of international sports circles and looked at as if we were outlaws."
Kuwait was first suspended by the IOC in 2010, also in a dispute over government interference. The country was reinstated in 2012 ahead of the London Games after Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, pledged autonomy for the Olympic committee and promised new legislation for institutions governing sports.