GLASGOW, Scotland (AFP) — A Malaysian cyclist was warned Friday that he risked being thrown out of the Commonwealth Games if he repeated wearing gloves bearing the message “Save Gaza.”
Azizulhasni Awang could have been ejected from the 2014 Glasgow Games after wearing the gloves in competition on Thursday.
Instead the 26-year-old, nicknamed the “Pocket Rocket,” who was set to take part in the individual sprint quarterfinals on Friday, was given a reprimand and was warned not to wear them again.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) seeks to avoid its competitions being used for political means.
The multi-sport event, held every four years, is nicknamed the “Friendly Games.”
Though Awang insists his message was “humanitarian” rather than politically-charged, he issued an apology.
“The actions were investigated and we spoke with the Malaysian team management and it’s a matter for the management to address,” said CGF chief executive Mike Hooper.
“It’s inappropriate for any form of protest in a Games venue; we respect everyone’s right to protest outwith.
“He has had a strong reprimand from his team management and he has apologized. In apologizing profusely he now knows any repetition will see a removal of his accreditation.”
On his Facebook fan page, which has more than 200,000 followers, Awang wrote: “I feel sorry to the people who misinterpret my message. There’s no such thing with political protest.
“It’s from the bottom of my heart to express humanitarian. Since when expressing humanitarian considered as political?
“Anyway, I apologize to those who think I’m doing wrong.
“I got a warning and still can race today but without my ‘SaveGaza’ glove.
“Thanks everyone for your support and really appreciate it.
“We all stand as a human.”
Israeli fire on Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 800, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a weeklong humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce.