Kuwait is set for a long absence from the Olympic Games and other international sporting events ©Getty Images

The rights of all sporting officials and athletes in Kuwait to take independent opinions and actions have been curtailed today after controversial new Statutes were approved by the country's National Assembly, in which dissenters face three-year jail terms.

Under the new measures, the Public Sports Authority (PSA) gain the power to dissolve all sporting bodies including the Kuwait Olympic Committee, as well as assuming control over all appointments and financial matters.

Those who refuse to comply could face jail terms of between one and three years.

The new Statutes, proposed by PSA chair Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, were approved by 40 of the 46 members of the National Assembly today.

It is thought likely that all National Federations will be dissolved by the KOC, with new club organisations set-up to replace them.

This ends any prospect of Kuwait's suspension from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) being lifted before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, meaning athletes from the Gulf Nation will only compete as independent athletes.

But it also means Kuwait faces generations in the international sporting wilderness, with the IOC and all IFs virtually certain to refuse to recognise any new National Federation introduced by the PSA.

Kuwait's National Assembly approved the new Statutes today ©Getty Images
Kuwait's National Assembly approved the new Statutes today ©Getty Images

"This is a very bad and sad day for the sports movement," Kuwait's Olympic Council of Asia director general Husain Al-Musallam told insidethegames.

"Since 1982, in no OCA member nation have we seen a law like this.

"Where sporting volunteers and athletes face three years in jail for expressing an opinion which National Sports organisations have an obligation to follow due to their relationships with International Federations.

"This is the only example of a law like this in any country in the world."

As general secretary of the Kuwait Swimming Association, Al-Musallam is one of those who could be affected by the new laws.

Article 11 of the Statutes proposes that the PSA has the power to cancel any decision made by either the Board or General Assembly of the KOC or any club, National Federation or other sporting organisation.

Article 12 gives the PSA permission to dissolve any of these bodies when it is in the “public interest” to do so.

Article 27 permits them to interfere and overrule all technical, financial, structural and administrative decisions made.

Article 30 rules that any individual within these bodies who refuses to comply by these new rules will face jail terms of a minimum and one and a maximum of three years.

"The National Assembly passed a Bill amending sports institutions and the KOC, regulating laws, sports clubs and federations, and referred them from the Government," reported the state run Kuwait News Agency today.

But Sheikh Salman, also the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs, was criticised for the "unconstitutional" nature of the proposals by those opposed to the Bill.

It is also seen as a violation of the human rights of all those involved in sport - including athletes - to exercise freedom of opinion.

Athletes like Abdullah Al-Rashidi who have already qualified for Rio 2016 are still expected to participate as independent athletes ©Getty Images
Athletes like Abdullah Al-Rashidi who have already qualified for Rio 2016 are still expected to participate as independent athletes ©Getty Images

This is all seemingly connected to a personal feud between Sheikh Salman and his cousin Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti IOC member who is also President of both the OCA and the Lausanne-based Association of National Olympic Committees.

Sheikh Salman resigned as head of the Asian Shooting Confederation last year after standing unsuccessfully against Mexico's Olegario Vazquez Raña to become head of the International Shooting Sport Federation in 2014, an election he lost by 165 votes to 128.

insidethegames exclusively reported on the eve of the election that he had been allegedly using his Government position to illegally collect votes.

Sheikh Salman blamed Sheikh Ahmad for his defeat and for spreading these allegations.

It is thought that he is keen to cement his authority and remove rivals ahead of Parliamentary elections in June 2017.