Israeli delegation at Rio olympics..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The head of the Lebanese Olympic delegation was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee on Sunday after refusing to let the Israeli delegation board a bus the two teams were supposed to share.
As a result, according to the original Facebook post by Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal, event organizers tried to scatter the Israeli athletes on several different buses. He called this “unacceptable for security and representative reasons.”
During the hearing on the matter, the IOC committee warned Salim al-Haj Nakoula the head of the Lebanese delegation, that they would not accept any further instances like this.
Al-Haj Nakoula responded that the whole incident was the result of a misunderstanding.
A source from the Lebanese Olympic committee told Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen on Saturday that the refusal to allow the Israeli delegation to ascend the bus on Friday was a group decision of the Lebanese Olympic delegation.
A separate source also 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.
Gal’s post set off an internet firestorm after he described the incident on his Facebook account on Friday. "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."