Tunisia has been told it won’t be able to bid to host the 2022 Youth Olympics following the country’s treatment of Israeli athletes.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in a statement:
“After Tunisia banned Israeli athletes from participating in a taekwondo event, the IOC has frozen all contacts with the local National Olympic Committee with regard to its candidature for the Youth Olympic Games 2022.
“We had to address the issue of the increase in governments requesting boycotts of sport events for political reasons. Some governments abuse sport for their political purposes. This is against the mission of sport and of the Olympic Games, which bring people together and unify people regardless of any political differences.
“These boycotts are against our essential values. We are here to watch this carefully and to act.”
In March, a court in Tunisia banned four Israeli athletes from competing at the taekwondo world junior championships after a group of activists opposed to normalization with Israel filed an urgent lawsuit. Tunisia was hosting the international sporting event and under the terms it agreed to was not allowed to ban any athletes from any country from competing.
This latest news comes as the Tunisian capital of Tunis, was vying with Abuja in Nigeria, Dakar in Senegal and Gabarone in Botswana to host the Youth Olympics in 2022.
We are pleased to see the IOC taking such a strong stand against this treatment. It will be interesting to see if this is the only punishment or if any future bids will also be blocked. Any county that bans Israelis from taking part in an international sports event they host should be banned from hosting all future international sports events.