LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Refusing to compete against a fellow athlete at the London Games because of nationality or religion would be a “serious breach” of the Olympic code of ethics, the IOC said Friday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said athletes and teams should “stay at home” if they are not prepared to compete without discrimination.
The IOC comment came after an Algerian kayaker withdrew from a World Cup last month in which an Israeli was entered.
Without commenting specifically on that incident, the IOC condemned such a “hypothetical scenario” at the London Olympics.
“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,” IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said in a statement.
Iran was criticized after some of its athletes withdrew from events against Israelis at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“If an athlete/team is unable to come to the games in spirit of friendship and fair play, then they should stay at home,” Moreau said. “There can be no discrimination for any reason between participants at the Olympic Games.”
Algerian kayaker Nasreddine Baghdadi stopped paddling and returned to the dock during a recent 1,000-meter heat at a World Cup in Germany that included an Israeli competitor.
The head of the Algerian Olympic Committee, Rachid Hanifi, was quoted in the Times of London as saying it was “up to the Algerian government” to decide whether Algerians should compete against Israelis.
“I know it’s a very sensitive question and this is why I said that I will discuss it with the Algerian government, conforming to the recommendations of the IOC which advocates harmonious cooperation between national Olympic committees and their government,” Hanifi told The Associated Press on Friday.
Asked specifically whether Algerian athletes would compete against Israelis, he said: “In this case, the opinion of the Algerian government must be asked, to conform to the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee.”