The head of the Lebanese Olympic delegation has been told by the International Olympic Committee that they won’t tolerate another situation where they refuse to allow Israeli athletes to board a bus which is meant for the two countries to share.
The IOC committee held a hearing on Sunday, where they told Salim al-Haj Nakoula the head of the Lebanese delegation, that they wouldn’t accept another such occurrence.
Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal posted on Facebook his ‘shock’ as to what played out in front of him on Friday evening. He said: “2016 Olympics…shame on you. 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 organisers 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 organisers – attempting to prevent a diplomatic incident – then organised a separate ride for us. But the diplomatic incident already occurred – shame!
“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.”
Al-Haj Nakoula had said the incident was a ‘misunderstanding’, but then told a Lebanese newspaper that he was allowed to prevent another team boarding a bus that was reserved for his country’s athletes. He told An-Nahar: “I asked the bus driver to close the door but the guide with the Israeli team prevented him from doing so, I then stood at the door of the bus to prevent the Israel team from entering and some of them tried to go in and pick up a fight.”
However, another source from the Lebanese Olympic committee told Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen that the decision not to allow the Israelis on the bus was a group decision of the Lebanese Olympic delegation.
Another source added Lebanese athletes are “committed to the national position in refusing to be in the same place as the Israelis.”