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Thursday, 18 April 2024 21:11

Palestinian Athletes Will Fight in Paris Olympics

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VOInews, Jakarta: Six months after a deadly war engulfed Gaza, the Palestinian Olympic Committee is fighting against formidable odds to ensure its athletes take part in this summer's Paris Olympics. Palestinian Authority official Nader Jayousi was quoted by FRANCE 24 as saying that his country's delegation will bring a "message of peace" to the world and inspire Palestinian children "whose dreams have been crushed by bombs".


Palestinian athletes have taken part in every Summer Olympics since they were first admitted to the Atlanta Games in 1996. Each participation has had special significance for residents of the Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian diaspora, giving stateless people a place to compete on the world stage.


Participation in Paris will be all the more important in the context of a war that has devastated much of the Gaza Strip and killed at least 33,000 people, according to health officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave, including some of the athletes taking part in the events this summer.


"Among athletes, coaches and club staff, the Palestinian sports world has lost at least 170 people," said Jayousi, speaking from the Palestinian Olympic Committee headquarters near Jerusalem. The victims include Olympic football team coach Hani Al-Masdar and volleyball star Ibrahim Qusaya, both killed by Israeli bombs in Gaza.


"The tragedy is also compounded by the damage to infrastructure: the Yarmouk stadium, the Olympic Committee offices in Gaza, and several other stadiums," he added. "If the war ended today, at least 70% of Gaza's population would be homeless, let alone playing sports."


Jayousi says the war has forced the Palestinian committee to scale back its ambitions, and abruptly ended a pioneering programme aimed at increasing the number of athletes qualifying for the Olympics. Despite the major setback, Palestinian hopes received a major boost last month when Omar Ismail secured the first ticket to the Olympics for men's taekwondo - a feat that other athletes are expected to match in the coming weeks.


The Palestinian delegation fielded a record five athletes at the last Olympics in Tokyo. Jayousi said his goal is to "reach that number". He remains confident that the wild card (an opportunity or permission given to a non-regular athlete so that he can perform at a particular event, ed.) will help his country present its largest delegation in Olympic history. (Daniel).


Source: France24. Com

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