The organisers of a half-marathon in the northern Italian city of Trieste have backtracked on their decision to exclude African athletes from the race following accusations of racism.
“After launching a provocation that hit a nerve, drawing great attention to a fundamental issue, contrary to what was communicated yesterday, we will also invite African athletes,” Fabio Carini, the manager of the Trieste running festival, said in a statement.
Carini provoked fury on Saturday after saying only European professional runners would be invited to take part in the event on 5 May in order to draw attention to the exploitation of African athletes.
“This year we decided to only take European athletes to make a point that measures must be taken to regulate what is a trade in very high-worth African athletes, who are simply exploited,” he originally told La Repubblica. “This is something we can no longer accept.”
Carini argued that African runners were paid much less than they were worth.
Isabella De Monte, an MEP with the centre-left Democratic party, led the outrage, suggesting the organisers were “cleansing sport”.
“The exploitation of athletes is being used as a fig leaf – regarding such questions, there are places and appropriate bodies to turn to,” she added. “This is truly absurd: professionals are being prevented from taking part in a competition because they come from Africa.”
Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister, said while it was correct to call out the exploitation of African athletes, barring them from taking part in the race was “not the way to do it”.
Giancarlo Giorgetti, the junior sports minister with the far-right League, pledged to open a parliamentary inquiry.
As the controversy raged, the Italian Federation of Athletics said it had opened an investigation “to examine the facts and possible violations of its standards and regulations committed by affiliated clubs or licensees”.
Olivier Irabaruta, an Olympic athlete from Burundi, was the male winner of last year’s Trieste half-marathon. Elvanie Nimbona, also from Burundi, won the women’s race.
Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/28/trieste-half-marathon-backtracks-on-exclusion-of-africans
Publish date : 2019-04-28 10:39:00