The Asian Games are expected to test Iraq's ability to get other nations to recognize the government it has installed in Kuwait.
Kuwait's foreign minister today ruled out sending a joint Kuwait-Iraq team to the competition, which opens in Beijing on Sept. 22.
That left open the possibility the Kuwaiti government-in-exile will send one team and the Iraqi-installed administration will send another.
The Kuwait Embassy in Beijing, which represents the government-in-exile, said Kuwait's soccer team was training outside the country when Iraq invaded on Aug. 2 and could attend the games. The whereabouts of other Kuwaiti athletes is not known.
The Olympic Council of Asia's constitution allows all 38 member nations to compete in the games, a spokesman for the organizing committee, Wu Zhongyuan, said.
But if two teams claiming to represent Kuwait show up, the council--not host China--would have to decide which team was legitimate, Wu said.
"Whoever the OCA recognizes, we will recognize," he said, adding that there has been no official discussion of the issue yet. The earliest a decision might be made would be Sept. 19, when the council's 12-member bureau plans to hold a special meeting in Beijing to select an acting president.
The council's late president, Sheik Fahd al Ahmed al Sabah, was killed Aug. 2 while defending the Kuwaiti royal residence from invading Iraqi troops. The sheik, brother of Kuwait's ruler, was to have presided over the games.
Wu and other Asian Games officials have said that neither Kuwait nor Iraq have changed plans to participate.
An official at the Kuwait Embassy said, "(Our government) didn't mention yet whether Kuwait will attend or not, so everything will be as before."
Neither Kuwaiti government met today's deadline for submitting a list of its participating athletes.
Wu said other states in the Persian Gulf region had asked for an extension of the roster deadline because of the crisis there.
The Chinese organizers so far are continuing to recognize the exiled government. At a trial award ceremony a few days ago, the Kuwaiti flag was raised and its national anthem played.