By Duncan Mackay in Lausanne
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Olympic_Stadium_aerial_view_November_2010January 13 - There are set to be two less countries competing at London 2012 following the International Olympic Committee's decision to suspend Ghana and stop recognising the Netherland Antilles.

It reduces the number of countries eligible to compete from 205 to 202, with Kuwait already suspended.

India have also been warned that unless they resolve several issues they face the risk of being banned from competing at London next year.

The IOC's ruling Executive Board suspended Ghana for Government interference.

The suspension means Ghana's Olympic Committee (GOC) will no longer receive IOC funding, its officials are banned from attending any Olympic events and Ghana's athletes are barred from competing in the Olympics.

The sanctions could be lifted before the London Games if Ghana complies with IOC regulations and assures the complete independence of the national body.

The IOC has complained in particular that Government officials in Ghana are appointing the Presidents of national sports federations.

Things came to a head in June 2009 when former triple jumper Francis Dodoo was elected as the GOC's new new President, a result disputed by Benson Tongo Baba, who had held the post for 12 years.

Baba complained to the IOC claiming there been interference from some "external forces" which contravened the ideals of the Olympic Charter and the constitution of the GOC.

Among the action called for by the IOC was the implementation of a new Sports Bill by the end of last year.

"There have been many promises that the law would be changed but nothing materialised," said IOC President Jacques Rogge at the conclusion of the Executive Board meeting here.

"While keeping contact ... the Executive Board was compelled to expel the National Olympic Committee of Ghana (GOC).

"We hope the situation will be solved as soon as possible.

"It's a bit premature to say what's going happen in London.

"If the situation is not resolved, we will consider measures that could still help the athletes."

Ghana's Olympic committee was formed in 1952 and recognised by the IOC the same year.

Nii_Odartey_LampteyThe country has won four Olympic medals - a silver in boxing in 1960, bronze in boxing in 1964 and 1972 and a bronze in men's football in 1992, a team which included former Aston Villa and Coventry City player Nii Lamptey (pictured).

Ghana sent nine competitors to the 2008 Beijing Games, competing in athletics and boxing.

Ghana becomes the second national Olympic committee under IOC suspension.

Kuwait's national body was suspended early last year for political interference by the Government.

The Netherlands Antilles was made-up originally of communities from various islands that formed a single autonomous country within the Netherlands.

But it was dissolved in October and they are now special municipalities of the Netherlands.

he Netherlands Antilles Olympic Committee joined the the IOC in 1950 and made its debut in the Games at Helsinki two years later when their football team were beaten 2-1 by Turkey.

They have competed in every Games since 1960 except Moscow in 1980 when they joined the boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Three athletes represented Netherlands Antilles at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Churandy Martina in athletics, Philip Elhage in shooting and Rodion Davelaar in swimming.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have already removed the Netherlands Antilles' membership and athletes like Martina will in future compete under the Dutch flag.

"The territory does not legally exist anymore as such and the IOC propose that at the forthcoming IOC Session in Durban [on July 6] with recognition from the Netherlands Antilles NOC," said Rogge.

But the athletes will continue to be supported by the IOC and will be able to compete under the Olympic flag in London, Rogge promised.

Similar arrangements were made in past Olympics for athletes from Yugoslavia and East Timor.

India, meanwhile, are also in danger of being banned from London following its failure to adopt proposals agreed following a meeting with the IOC here last June, including the Government respecting the autonomy of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

"After careful analysis of the situation, the IOC Executive Board noted that a number of points have still to be resolved," a statement from the IOC said.

"Consequently, if the situation does not evolve positively the IOC Executive Board will consider taking appropriate measures and actions which might seriously affect the representation and participation of India at the Olympics and international sports events coming up."

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Related stories
January 2011: Ghana facing Olympic suspension after failing to reach compromise in row
December 2010: Netherlands Antilles participation at London 2012 in doubt