Following allegations that Israeli athletes were snubbed at the FINA Swimming World Cup in Doha and Dubai, the international body has issued a warning to both cities.
Organizing committees here and in the UAE have been told to adhere to the contest’s rules, which ban discrimination on political grounds.
The warning was given in response to complaints that Israeli swimmers had been removed from television coverage and that efforts were made to avoid listing them on results tables. FINA said in a statement:
“FINA gave a warning to the organisers of the two FINA Swimming World Cup meets and recalled them that the FINA rules must be equally applied by all FINA National Federations. Moreover, FINA guarantees that all steps will be taken in the future for such acts not to occur again.”
Speaking to Doha News, a FINA spokesperson confirmed that complaints about TV coverage of the event had been received, adding that “there were some mistakes on television” in both the UAE and Qatar.
However, he claimed that the federation “had not been monitoring” the television coverage, and added that “rules were fully applied” once the problems were brought to light.
The allegations follow an online furor earlier this week over the flying of the Israeli flag in Qatar during the FINA Swimming World Cup. The flag had been raised (among others) outside of the FINA venue, the Hamad Aquatic Center, which is part of Aspire Zone, and was later removed.
Israeli swimmer Amit Ivri won a bronze medal for 100 meters breaststroke at Dubai, and took silver in Doha for the 100 medley. Ivri herself told media that she preferred “not to talk politics.” But team member Gal Nevo told Israeli newspaper Haaretz why the delegation felt it had grounds for complaint about the television coverage of her race in Dubai:
“I watched the broadcast where Amit Ivry won a medal,” he told the paper. “She swam in lane 1, but the broadcast focused completely on the other half of the pool. Of course there weren’t any results (announced), and it was impossible to know if she’d finished in third place.”
FINA state that “the incidents of the first day” were not repeated on the second day of the event in Dubai.
No details of the specific complaints made about Doha’s television coverage have been released, but FINA have said that they were only told of the issues 15 minutes before the end of the second day finals’ session.
Speaking to Doha News, a FINA spokesman was keen to point out that the medal ceremony held in Doha for Ivri was held according to the contest’s rules, including the hoisting of an Israeli flag.
He said he was “unaware” that the Israeli flag had been taken down from the display outside the Doha venue.
Organizers of both the Dubai and Doha events have apologized for the issues with the television coverage, he added.
Responding to the allegations, and acknowledging that Israeli swimmers had faced difficulties obtaining visas for FINA events in the Gulf in recent years, FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told the Associated Press:
“Every year we have events there and we never had things like this. This time there was no problem (with visas). Only these stupid things.”
FINA has promised that transgressions such as these will not be tolerated at future events, a key issue for Doha and Dubai, which will both host the Swimming World Cup again next year. Furthermore, the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) will also take place in Doha in December 2014.
Credit: Photo from the FINA Swimming World Cup page on Facebook