ATR First: Discrimination Jeopardizes Tunisia Youth Olympics Bid

(ATR) The IOC has threatened to knock Tunisia out of the 2022 YOG bidding race over repeated discrimination of athletes.

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(ATR) The IOC has threatened to knock Tunisia out of the four-nation 2022 Youth Olympic bidding race over repeated discrimination of athletes.

The IOC confirmed Thursday the countries which are in the dialogue phase of the bidding contest under efforts to take the fourth edition of the YOG to Africa. As well as Tunisia, Olympic officials are in talks with Botswana, Nigeria and Senegal.

An IOC delegation of experts will travel to all the African countries next week, bar Tunisia, as part of a 10-day feasibility study to assess their Youth Olympic credentials.

Tunisia is not on the itinerary, Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi tells Around the Rings. One recent case of many highlighting Tunisian government intervention saw four Israelis banned from participating in the taekwondo world junior championships.

"We’ve been clear. There is an issue that prevents athletes participating in international competition and discrimination is something we cannot have," Dubi said.

The IOC is not ruling Tunisia out of the 2022 race – just yet. But it doesn’t look promising.

"No. What we are saying is at present we are not coming [next week]. Should the conditions change then we will reconsider," Dubi told ATR.

Asked what the Tunisian government needs to do, he added: "To allow for all competitors to attend international competitions."

And if that doesn’t change in the next few months, Tunisia is out of the race? "Correct," he said.

The IOC’s ruling body wrapping up its two-day meeting in Lausanne on Thursday discussed the rise of nationalism in global sport. Among recent examples are discrimination problems in Ukraine and Russia and a range of cases involving Israeli athletes.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said there was "a big discussion about nationalism, the intervention of governments using sport for political purposes".

"Again we stated our zero tolerance to this," he told reporters in Lausanne, adding that the IOC was "working on prevention and reaction" in coordination with various organizations including NOCs, international and national federations.

The IOC inspectors heading to Africa will be looking for government guarantees from Botswana, Nigeria and Senegal and a clear understanding of the Youth Olympics product. Government officials, NOCs and national federations will present their visions on how to deliver the event. Budgets and the sports programs will be part of discussions.

Dubi said an update on the process will be given to the IOC executive board meeting in July. The bidding contest, with or without Tunisia, will conclude with the announcement of the host city at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in October.

IOC vice-president from Turkey Ugur Erdener was appointed 2022 Youth Olympics evaluation commission chair last month. He is expected to lead inspection visits to the cities of Dakar, Abuja and Gaborone between July and October.

Homepage photo: Getty Images

Written and reported by Mark Bisson in Lausanne

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