The Department of States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) and the United States Olympic Committee (U.S.O.C.), worked together to arrange a sports exchange for athletes and coaches from Iraqs National Archery Federation.
The Iraqi archery team will travel to New York City to shoot in the World Archery Championships July 14-20, 2003. These championships are the qualifiers for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Some 600 archers from more than 80 countries are scheduled to compete.
Following the competition, the Iraqi archers will tour Washington, D.C. and work out at the United States Olympic Committee archery training facility in San Diego, California.
Iraqi archers watched their country's Olympic program fall apart around them while under the control of Saddam Hussein's son Odai. Former Iraqi Olympians have accused Odai of torturing and jailing athletes who failed to achieve his standards of performance.
The U.S. Archery Federation initially contacted the State Departments Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for assistance in getting the Iraqi archery team to the United States for the championships. The combined efforts of the Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan and the Coalition Provisional Authority made this possible.