IOC warns against boycott of Israelis

Algerian threat to forbid athletes to face Israeli counterparts prompts IOC response.

London Olympics 2012 logo (photo credit: Reuters)
London Olympics 2012 logo
(photo credit: Reuters)
The International Olympic Committee has said that athletes “should stay at home” if they intend not to compete against Israelis at the London Games.
The warning came after the president of the Algerian Olympic Committee said that the country’s Olympic team may face a state policy forbidding them from facing Israeli athletes this summer.
“There can be no discrimination for any reason between participants at the Olympic Games,” IOC spokeswoman Emanuelle Moreau said in a statement.
“Refusing to participate in an Olympic event because of a fellow athlete/team’s religion or nationality, would not only be unsporting behavior but a serious breach of the IOC’s Code of Ethics, the principles of the Olympic Charter and the Athletes Oath.
“If an athlete/team is unable to come to the Games in spirit of friendship and fair play, then they should stay at home.”
The IOC comment came after Algerian kayaker Nasreddine Baghdadi withdrew from a World Cup event last month in which Israeli Roei Yellin was entered.
Algerian NOC President Rachid Hanifi said all Algerians might refuse to compete against Israelis in London.
“There is an obligation to ask our government if we have to meet Israel in sport,” Hanifi was quoted by The Times of London last week.
“Our athletes represent the whole country, not just our Olympic committee.”
Israeli athletes have come to expect being boycotted by Arab colleagues from certain countries, specifically Iran, with such incidents occurring in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
In Beijing, Mohammad Alirezaei refused to compete alongside Israeli swimmer Tom Be’eri in the 100-meter breaststroke heats.
Four years earlier, judo world champion Arash Miresmaeli disqualified himself to avoid a meeting with Israel’s Ehud Vaks in the under-66kg competition and was later awarded the same $125,000 prize money Iran handed its gold medal winners from the 2004 Athens Olympics.