UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

World Triathlon must enforce its rules after Israel’s triathlon team blocked from international competition

UKLFI has complained to the World Triathlon organisation, following the Israel triathlon team being denied entry to Jordan for the Asian Cup competition earlier this month.

The Jordanian organisers of the competition stated that they “feared that they would not be able to ensure the security of the Israelis in the event of an incident.”

UKLFI has written Antonio Arimany, Secretary General of World Triathlon, based in Geneva, and pointed out that the actions of Jordan’s triathlon organisers breaches a number of World Triathlon’s core constitutional documents, namely:

  • World Triathlon Constitution

  • The International Triathlon Union (ITU) Code of Ethics

  • Competition Rules

  • Athletes Agreement

  • Triathlon Local Organising Committee (LOC)

For example, the objects of the World Triathlon Constitution include the aim “To strive to ensure that no … ethnic, religious, political or other kind of unfair discrimination exists or is allowed to develop in Triathlon… in any form, and that all may participate regardless of their gender, race, religious or political views or any other factor.”

Israeli athletes were excluded and so it appears that neither the Jordanian Association nor the World Triathlon officials in Aqaba ‘strived’ to ensure their participation. The exclusion of Israeli athletes, and of the entire Israeli Triathlon team amounted to discrimination and victimisation.

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) Code of Ethics was also breachedThe code’s aim is to protect the image of the sport of Triathlon from jeopardy or harm as a result of immoral or unethical activities, methods and practices and to ensure the sport’s commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic ideals.

This incident puts World Triathlon at odds with the Olympic ideals and charter. It is a symbol of discord, it opens World Triathlon to the accusation of collusion with exclusion and boycott of athletes.  Further, since this incident prevented athletes from acquiring necessary rankings to secure entry to the Olympic Games the Olympic Movement has a direct interest in the consequences.

The Triathlon Local Organising Committee (LOC) Requirements  state that one of the principles of the World Triathlon Championship Series Event is the opportunity to bring international visitors to the host city, to deliver high-quality opportunities and total satisfaction to sponsors.

In this case it was decided to exclude international visitors from the host city, in contravention of the LOC requirements.

The Triathlon LOC also has “key criteria” which includes providing a “High quality experience for all participants”.  However this was a zero quality experience for members of the Israeli team.

According to Triathlon LOC,  paragraph 6.2 “The most important people at the event are the athletes. Their overall view of the event will be reflected not just in the race but in the consideration that has gone into anticipating their needs.”

If the most important people at the event are the athletes then colluding in preventing athletes from getting to the event is the most egregious failing possible for World Triathlon.

UKLFI has asked World Triathlon not to simply pass the blame onto the LOC; it must answer the question as to how this happened and what is being done to prevent it happening again.

This incident appears to be part of  a concerted campaign to prevent Israeli athletes from competing anywhere. In September, Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of proscribed terror organisation Hezbollah praised a Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts competitor, and also a Lebanese Chess player, who both refused to compete against Israelis in international tournaments.

There is recent evidence of this illegitimate boycott activity from Jordan. In August Maysir Al-Dahamsheh, a Jordanian competitor, refused to compete against an Israeli at a World Taekwondo event in Sofia Bulgaria. In response to intervention by UKLFI,  World Taekwondo vowed to upgrade its rules to ensure no repetition of this action occurred.

Sam Green, director of UKLFI commented:  “If World Triathlon allows this incident to pass without sanction it is being complicit in an international movement to discriminate and disrupt fair and honourable sporting competition.”

 “This is a very sorry episode that stains the reputation of World Triathlon. There are many questions, and if World Triathlon is serious about ensuring its rules are enforced and about complying with those of the Olympic Movement it must be open and transparent.”