Gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms abducted about 50 people, including the head of Iraq's national Olympic committee, while they were holding a meeting in Baghdad on Saturday, police sources said.
Details of the mass abduction were sketchy, but police said the incident took place at a major conference centre in central Baghdad.
Some mass kidnappings reported by police have later turned out to be arrests made by other security departments.
Police sources said the well-known Olympic Committee chief Ahmed al-Hadjiya and 21 bodyguards had been taken, along with some 30 athletes, by gunmen in blue camouflage uniforms who were driving official-looking four-wheel drive vehicles.
Iraq's Olympic Committee was dominated by Saddam Hussein's son Uday until the US invasion of 2003.