LONDON (EJP)---The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has responded angrily to threats by the Algerian Olympic Committee (NOC) that state policy may enforce a boycott on team members of events featuring Israeli participants at this summer’s London games.
After Algerian kayaker Nasreddine Baghdadi withdrew from a World Cup event last month in which Israeli Roei Yellin was due to compete, NOC President Rachid Hanifi insisted: “There is an obligation to ask our government if we have to meet Israel in sport.”
IOC spokesman Emanuelle Moreau meanwhile issued a statement rejecting the idea that discrimination should interfere in the “spirit of friendship and fair play” at the heart of the Olympic Games, suggesting in lieu of boycotting events on political grounds, it would be advisable for any athletes objecting to the participation of any other competitors to “stay at home”:
“Refusing to participate in an Olympic event because of a fellow athlete/team’s religion or nationality, would not only be unsporting behaviour but a serious breach of the IOC’s Code of Ethics, the principles of the Olympic Charter and the Athletes Oath”, she concluded.
Israeli athletes have previously been subject to boycotts by Arab states, with Iranian athletes boycotting events at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. The lasr-t games in Beijing saw Mohammed Alirezaei refuse to compete alongside Israeli swimmer Tom Be’eri in the 100-metre breaststroke heats.
Four years earlier in Athens, Iranian judo world champion Arash Miresmaeli disqualified himself to avoid meeting Israel’s Ehud Vaks in the next round, only to be awarded with the same $125 million (€100 million) prize money Iran awarded its gold medal winners from other events.
This isn’t the first time Israel has been drawn into controversy in the run-up to the London Games, after the IOC denied calls from victims’ families and international politicians to hold a minute’s silence at this summer’s games in memory of the Israeli victims of a terror attack at the Munich Olympics.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon were joined by British and Australian politicians in supporting a petition by two of the widows of the 11 victims of the 1972 attacks by Palestinian terror group Black September requesting the 40th anniversary be officially commemorated as part of the official programme for the Olympics.
This followed repeated unsuccessful appeals in the decades since the attack by the families for a minute’s silence to be implemented in memory of the tragedy.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, however insisted official tributes have formerly been made and rejected the necessity of holding an additional ceremony this year, adding: “Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.”