Tehran official says president will arrive in UK day ahead of opening ceremony and will watch Iran's athletes compete 'just as he did in 2008'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to attend the Olympic Games in London, which will commence in a month, the secretary general of the Islamic Republic's National Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad recently said he wants to support his country's athletes but that the British authorities had "problems" with hosting him.
According to an Iranian news agency, the Olympic committee official, Bahram Afsharzadeh, said Ahmadinejad will fly to London on July 26, a day before the opening ceremony. However, the report said, it remains unclear whether he will attend the opening ceremony.
Some 50 Iranian athletes will participate in the Olympics, and last month President Ahmadinejad said he would 'like to be among Iranian athletes in the 2012 London Olympics to support them."
Afsharzadeh said, "Following thorough examinations it was decided that I will fly together with the president to London on July 26. Just as he did in the 2008 Olympics, the president will watch the (athletes) compete."
Britain is one of six world powers negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program. If talks eventually collapse, financial markets could be hit by fears of war and of higher oil prices because Israel has threatened to
attack Iranian nuclear sites to prevent Tehran getting the bomb.
Tehran denies any such aim and says its nuclear program is purely for non-military purposes.
Relations between Iran and the UK have deteriorated since the British embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters, who ransacked offices and burned British flags in a protest over sanctions imposed by Britain on Tehran. Following the attack, the British Embassy in Tehran was closed down.
In response, Britain shut Iran's embassy in London and expelled all its staff.
The UK claimed the storming of the British mission in Tehran could not have taken place without consent from Iranian authorities.
Last year Iran threatened to boycott the 2012 London Olympics because of the event's "racist" logo which resembles the word Zion.
"Certainly other countries, including Islamic nations, will react to this racist logo and this would jeopardize the goals of the Olympic Games in the world," Afsharzadeh said at the time.