Political play in Rio: 'The Lebanese refused to board a bus with Israelis'

Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal shared a Facebook post in which he told of how members of the Lebanese delegation refused a ride with Israeli athletes.

August 6, 2016 10:22
1 minute read.

Israeli delegation at Rio olympics.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Rio summer Olympics premiered Friday night with an exceptionally large Israeli delegation - the largest in history - made up of 47 athletes. Excitement was at its peak when the delegation traversed across the Rio stadium, with rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin at its head. But prior to the ceremony, an awkward incident occurred between the Israeli and Lebanese delegations.

The Israelis, upon preparing to board a joint-bus, were turned down by the Lebanese who refused to share the ride. To avoid a diplomatic feud, event organizers decided to drive each delegation independently to the stadium.

Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal described the incident in a Facebook post. "2016 Olympics...shame on you," he wrote. "The Israeli delegation was preparing to board a bus to the opening ceremony, which was to be shared with the Lebanese delegation. The Lebanese, upon comprehending that they were to share a bus with the Israelis, addressed the driver in refusal and demanded that the door to the bus be shut. Event organizers then attempted to scatter us on different buses - something that is unacceptable for security and representative reasons."

"We insisted that we board the bus designated for us - and that the Lebanese should de-board if so they wish. So the bus driver opened the door. But this time, the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the entrance to the bus with his own body. Event organizers - attempting to prevent a diplomatic incident - then organized a separate ride for us. But the diplomatic incident already occurred - shame!"

He added: "How can it be that something like this occurs on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony? Does this not directly oppose what the Olympics represent and stand for...I cannot begin to express my feelings, I'm in shock from the incident."

A source from the Lebanese Olympic committee told al mayadeen that the refusal to allow the Israeli delegation to ascend onto the bus was a group decision of the Lebanese Olympic delegation.

Speaking to al mayadeen, another source said that Lebanese athletes are "committed to the national position in refusing to be in the same place as the Israelis." He added that Lebanon will remain part of the resistance against Israel.

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