Connect with us

Olympics

IOC invites Ukraine’s Kharlan to Olympics after disqualification

Published

on

Fencing - Women's Individual Sabre - Last 32 - Makuhari Messe Hall B - Chiba, Japan - July 26, 2021. Olga Kharlan of Ukraine reacts after competing REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan was invited to compete at the Olympic Games in Paris next year by the IOC on Friday after the fencer was disqualified for refusing to shake hands with a Russian opponent during a tournament earlier this week.

A letter sent to Kharlan signed by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said she would be granted an additional quota place at the Olympics if she was unable to qualify in the remaining period.

“Rest assured the IOC will continue to stand in full solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and the Olympic community of Ukraine during these extremely difficult times,” it added.

Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medallist and world champion, won her individual sabre bout 15-7 and then refused to shake hands with Russian Anna Smirnova – competing as a neutral – at the World Championships in Milan on Thursday.

In fencing’s rules, shaking an opponent’s hand is mandatory and failure to do so results in a ‘black card’.

Advertisement

Ukraine’s Youth and Sports minister Vadym Huttsait approved of the IOC decision in a post on Facebook.

“Despite all the hate that my team and I have endured over the past 24 hours, after working persistently for the benefit of Ukrainian athletes and not responding to this, we now have our first result,” he said.

“Work is continuing to rescind the “black card” for Olha’s future competitions and to prevent similar situations in other sports.”

The Ukrainian Fencing Federation (NFFU) also backed Kharlan.

Ukrainian athletes in other sports – including tennis players Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk – have also refused to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian opponents following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Moscow using Belarus as a staging ground for what it calls a “special military operation”.

Advertisement

The IOC said earlier on Friday that international federations should handle situations involving Ukrainian and neutral athletes with sensitivity.

RULES RELAXED

Kharlan represented Ukraine in the fencing tournament after the country’s sports ministry relaxed its rules over national sports teams competing in Olympic, non-Olympic and Paralympic events with competitors from Russia and Belarus.

“The decision taken by the Ukraine sports ministry will allow Ukrainian athletes to participate in international competitions and will enable them to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024,” the IOC told Reuters on Friday.

“We are glad that they will be given this opportunity, and at the same time, we are aware of the difficult inner conflicts they may have, given the aggression against their country.

“Therefore, we encourage International Federations to handle situations involving Ukrainian and Individual Neutral Athletes with the necessary degree of sensitivity.

Advertisement

“We continue to stand in full solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and the Olympic community of Ukraine.”

The NFFU has appealed against Kharlan’s disqualification.

“(The NFFU) filed a protest to the Bureau of the FIE against the decision of the Directoire Technique of the competition regarding the disqualification,” the NFFU said in a statement on Friday.

“The issue of “lack of respect”, which became the basis for the complaint, lies exclusively in the competence of the Referee… who did not record any violations in the actions of the Ukrainian fencer at the time the bout had ended.

“More importantly, this matter does not fall within the jurisdiction of Directoire Technique under FIE regulations.”

Advertisement

Kharlan said she stood by her decision not to shake hands with Smirnova.

“Today is kind of better because (of) all the support that I have… Everything that was going on, I think is a huge message for the people,” Kharlan told Reuters on Friday.

“Rules must be changed… for Ukrainians because you have to understand we still have war, and during this war… we just can’t… do handshakes, and you have to change, and you have to have some respect for us.

“When I have a choice… where I shake hands I will never shake hands with her. I’m sorry but there is something bigger than Olympic Games or license or fencing and finally I understood that, there is something more. The support for the Ukrainian people it’s incredible.”

Reporting by Tommy Lund and Aadi Nair; additional reporting by Claudia Greco and Ronald Popeski, writing by Pearl Josephine Nazare in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris

Advertisement

-Reuters

 

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Olympics

Inspired by Salah, Egypt’s Elgendy eyes gold in Paris

Published

on

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Modern Pentathlon - Men's Laser-Run - Tokyo Stadium - Tokyo, Japan - August 7, 2021. Ahmed Elgendy of Egypt celebrates after winning silver REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

When Ahmed Elgendy met Mohamed Salah in January, he was given a pep talk and posed for a picture with the Egyptian soccer star while wearing the modern pentathlon silver medal that he earned at the Tokyo Olympics.

Yet the 24-year-old dreams of taking another photo with Salah after the upcoming Paris Olympics, but this time he hopes to don a gold medal as he seeks to etch his name deeper into Egypt’s sporting history.

“Salah is a role model for all of us. Having a conversation with him, not just taking a photo, is a very big thing,” Elgendy told Reuters. “We talked about the Olympics and preparations; it was a very good meeting.”

Elgendy was a relative unknown when he made history in Tokyo, becoming the first African to win an Olympic modern pentathlon medal.

A late rally in the men’s individual event saw him finish just behind gold medallist Joe Choong of Britain.

Advertisement

Since then, he has been beset by injuries, including a shoulder injury that forced him out of the semi-finals of the Pentathlon World Championships last month.

However, after an intensive rehabilitation program, he has been declared fit and hopes deliver a gold medal in Paris.

“Things are different now compared to Tokyo; I’m more experienced and confident. Over the past three years, I’ve participated in only seven championships due to my shoulder injuries, yet I won medals in five of them,” Elgendy said.

“My primary target is to win gold, but I will also be happy if I win a silver or bronze as it will mark a second successive Olympic medal.”

Modern pentathlon athletes will face an added challenge in Paris with a riding contest in both the semi-finals and the final. In Tokyo, this event was part of a single-round format.

Advertisement

In the equestrian competition, riders are allocated random horses just 20 minutes before the start. The horse-riding contest will be scrapped altogether from the 2028 Los Angeles Games, making way for obstacle racing.

“There is a bigger risk now with regards to horse riding; it’s a bigger challenge. We hope things will go smoothly,” Elgendy added.

Elgendy, currently ranked fourth in the world, is aware he is under pressure as Egypt’s primary hope of glory in Paris. He has also been selected as Egypt’s flag-bearer during the opening ceremony.

“I know that I’m under the spotlight now, unlike in Tokyo. But I’m taking positives from that and treating it as extra motivation,” he said.

-Reuters

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Olympics

Cash, luxury cars and land grants, Paris Games a gold mine for Arab medallists

Published

on

Wrestling - WWE Crown Jewel 2021 - Mohammed Abdu Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - October 21, 2021 Olympic silver medalist Tareg Hamedi joins Mansoor during his fight against Mustafa Ali REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo

Tareg Hamedi went from being a hard-working student athlete to a national hero and millionaire after landing Saudi Arabia’s second ever Olympic silver medal in the karate competition in Tokyo three years ago.

Olympic medals remain a rarity for athletes from the Arab world but those who do manage to get onto the podium can expect lavish rewards, from luxury cars to land grants as well as a healthy boost to their bank balances.

Even as the sporting world debates the decision by World Athletics to award $50,000 to track and field gold medallists at the Paris Olympics, athletes from the region can be sure of much bigger paydays if they can snare a title in France.

In Tokyo, Hamedi missed out on claiming his country’s first gold medal in controversial circumstances when he knocked out his opponent with an illegal high kick in the final and was disqualified.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Hamedi he was a gold medallist in his country’s eyes and the fighter was rewarded with the full 5 million riyal ($1.33 million) prize promised to Olympic title winners.

Advertisement

Offering huge financial incentives to medal winners is not unknown elsewhere – Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka Long banked HK$5 million ($640,311) for his Tokyo gold – but bestowing honours on champions has a long history in the Arab world.

Olympic medallists can expect streets, schools and bridges to be named after them and it is not just oil-rich Gulf nations that offer lavish gifts and monetary rewards.

In Algeria, it is customary for the country’s president to honour Olympic champions with gifts from ranging from luxury cars to apartments.

The winner of a gold medal in Morocco receives two million dirhams ($200,000) while Egypt’s National Olympic Committee, in agreement with sponsors, has raised the value of a gold medal to five million Egyptian pounds ($105,218) for Paris.

The entire Iraqi national football team that qualified for Paris Olympics recently received plots of land and financial bonuses from the prime minister.

Advertisement

Qatar has long used financial incentives to attract athletes from other countries to compete for the gas-rich state and the rewards for medal success are thought to be generous, even if they are not publicly disclosed.

Egypt-born weightlifter Fares Ibrahim Hassouna switched allegiance to win Qatar’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in 2021 in a move that did not go down well with the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation.

“They splash money on him just as football clubs do on players,” federation chief Mahmoud Mahgoub said at the time.

-Reuters

Advertisement

=

Continue Reading

Olympics

Respite as CAS postpones judgement on WADA – Nigeria case

Published

on

BREAKING! WADA Sends Nigeria, Venezuela Anti-doping Agency Cases To CAS -

Judgement may have been postponed in the case before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) involving the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Nigeria.

A decision was expected on Friday. Information gathered from various sources indicated that the decision may have been deferred till after the Paris 2024 Games.

 WADA had claimed that Nigeria, among some other countries, did not comply with WADA Code.

The alleged non-compliance in the Nigeria case is due to the Nigeria Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) not addressing several critical requirements to its anti-doping program following an audit carried out by WADA in late 2022.

The General Secretary of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Tunde Popoola told the Sports Village Square that he was not entertaining any fear of Nigeria losing the case.

Advertisement

“It will be a shocker, if they decide to suspend us”, said Popoola. He added that he had not heard  anything about the case.

Continue Reading

Most Viewed