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Eritrean runner denied medal over lack of citizenship




The Israel Athletic Association decided not to award an Eritrean runner the silver medal—despite finishing second in the race—due to rules stating athletes over 18 must be citizens of Israel; 1st and 3rd place winners boycott medal ceremony in solidarity.


By Avinoam Porat | Ynetnews

The Israeli Athletics Association (IAA), which organized the Israel Field Race Championship, has decided not to awarde 19-year-old Eritrean refugee Thloani Malacca the silver medal due to him not being an Israeli citizen.

As a result of the IAA's decision, the winner of the race, Eshetu Worko, and the third place finisher, Getu Admasu, both Israeli citizens and members of Hasimta Athletic Club, boycotted the medal ceremony and refused to take the podium out of solidarity with Malacca.

The club published a post claiming a lack of equality between athletes whose center of life is Israel, regardless of citizenship.

The post stated that Thloani, who has been in the country five years and was from another club—Hapoel Emek-Hefer—actually wanted the ceremony to take place without him, but the two runners from Hasimta objected and boycotted the event.

The IAA's original plan was for Malacca to stand on the second place podium in order to award him the respect he deserved, along with Admasu, who would receive the actual silver medal.

Both Worko and Admasu had the support of their clubs in boycotting the ceremony.

The IAA responded by saying, "We respect Malacca, but we work according to the charter. Until two years ago, athletes who are not Israeli citizens did not even stand on the podium. In accordance with a demand of the Hasimta club, we added a special section that allowed all athletes under 18 to have the right to medals. Unfortunately, Thloani is 19 and the section does not apply to him. Only a further change would allow those athletes who are over 18 and not Israeli citizens to stand on the podium and receive a medal."

It is worth noting that similar problems exist in other countries in the world, such as in Europe, where there are many asylum seekers.

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