Olympic chief warns over sexual harassment
Incheon: Asia’s Olympics chief pleaded for good behaviour at the Asian Games Friday after an official was kicked out for sexual harassment and a footballer was accused of groping.
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said the 13,000 athletes and officials at the two week Games had to act with “goodwill and (appropriate) behaviour.”
The OCA on Wednesday expelled an Iranian team official for sexually harassing a female volunteer and issued strong warnings following an allegation against a Palestinian footballer.
The Asian body called on Iran to send home equipment manager Amereh Ahmad for verbally harassing the volunteer on Monday.
Police later said they are investigating a Palestinian footballer accused of groping a female worker in an athletes’ village laundry on Tuesday.
The unnamed player has been banned from leaving the country. South Korean police said Friday they had finished their investigation and sent the case to prosecutors to decide if charges should be pressed.
In a third case related to the Asian Games, which start on Friday, an Indian gymnast and his coach were under investigation for allegedly harassing a female athlete at a training camp in New Delhi.
The organizing committee has put up signs in the Games village warning against harassment, while the OCA said it had “zero tolerance” for such cases.
Opening a meeting of the OCA Executive Board, Sheikh Ahmad warned delegates and athletes over their behaviour.
“I hope that over the next 16 days our athletes and you will participate with good will and (appropriate) behaviour,” the Kuwaiti said ahead of the official opening ceremony.
“Enjoy your stay in Incheon, work hard for the success of the Games. Let us prepare a good environment for our movement,” Sheikh Ahmad added in brief comments before media were asked to leave the room.
Following the cases, the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee (IAGOC) put up strongly worded posters warning that harassment cases would be prosecuted under South Korean law.
“Sexual violence is a serious crime that impoverishes the victim’s mind and mentality,” said the notices in Games accommodation.
“Sexual violence includes any behaviour that causes sexual humiliation through physical contact.
“The assailant will definitely be punished and may bring down the virtue of his/her nation.”
The matter was to be addressed at Friday’s meeting of the OCA and representatives of the 45 national Olympic committees, an IAGOC official said.