MENA Sports Wrap: Arab refugees ready for Paris 2024 Olympics Games

MENA Sports Wrap: Arab refugees ready for Paris 2024 Olympics Games
Thirty-six stateless athletes have been named in the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Paris 2024 games, while there has been drama in the Turkish sports scene.
3 min read
03 May, 2024
Arab athletes are among those named in the IOC Refugee Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games [TNA]

 As nations gear up for the 2024 Olympic Games, the 'refugee team' - which includes displaced Arabs - also announced its athletes who will compete in Paris.

A Turkish kung fu fighter has meanwhile been penalised for a show of support for Palestine, meanwhile in the country's football league saw a match-fixing scandal.

IOC names Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has named the largest-ever Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024, which will see 36 athletes compete in the global competition held in the French capital from 26 July to 11 August.

"Congratulations to all of you. We welcome you, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team with open arms and open hearts," IOC President Thomas Bach said after introducing the team in a ceremony held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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"With your participation in the Olympic Games, you will demonstrate the human potential of resilience and excellence. This will send a message of hope to the more than 100 million displaced people around the world," Bach told the athletes.

The Refugee Olympic Team will compete in the Olympics for a third time, as it was introduced in Rio 2016. It consisted of 10 athletes for the Summer Games in Brazil. There were 29 displaced athletes, who made the Tokyo 2020 team.

This year, 36 athletes from 11 different countries of origin will compete in 12 sporting disciplines in Paris 2024 such as swimming, athletics, boxing, road cycling, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Turkish kung fu fighter Akyuz faces probe over support for Palestine

The Wushu Kungfu Federation of Europe (WKFE) announced on Tuesday it was investigating a Turkish martial artist over a display of support for Palestine during the European Wushu Kungfu Championship held in December in Istanbul.

Necmettin Erbakan Akyuz, who holds six championships in martial arts, held a Palestinian flag aloft after being presented with the European Championship gold medal during the award ceremony.

"Political displays were reported during the prize-giving ceremonies, reportedly initiated by individual members associated with the TWF (Turkish Wushu Kung Fu Federation). Immediate measures were taken on-site, including personal meetings and official protests, to strongly contest these occurrences. Such actions do not align with our values and standards within the WKFE community," a statement by WKFE said.

Turkish Kung Fu champion Necmettin Erbakan Akyuz performs the traditional folk dance "dabke" and holds the Palestinian flag in solidarity with #Gaza.

— Radar Africa (@radarafricacom) December 17, 2023

It added that an internal investigation was launched to "examine these incidents, seeking clarity and understanding thoroughly. This inquiry aims to identify any shortcomings and enable the implementation of necessary measures. The findings will be consolidated into a comprehensive report".

In response to the investigation, Akyuz said: "I am proud of myself for the inconvenience I caused, I do not regret it, and if I have the opportunity, I will do it again."

"You can punish me, you can take away my championships. I don't care, I did it by risking the end of my sports career."

Turkish federation investigates match-fixing allegations

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has launched an investigation into allegations of match-fixing in a third-tier game, the state-run Anadolu Agency said earlier this week.

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Ankaraspor and Nazilli Belediyespor drew 0-0 in the TFF 2. Lig game on Sunday, which meant the former reached the promotion play-offs while the latter avoided relegation.

There were no shots in the match, while Ankaraspor had two corners and Nazillispor none. No red or yellow cards were shown.

Nazilli Belediyespor president Sahin Kaya denied allegations of match-fixing, saying his team played a tough game, and both teams will likely be happy with the result.

"One point was enough for us to stay in the league. Our players managed to secure one point in a difficult away game against Ankaraspor," Kaya said.