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Italy: Trieste half-marathon backtracks on excluding African runners after outcry03:13

Italy: Trieste half-marathon backtracks on excluding African runners after outcry

Italy, Trieste
April 28, 2019 at 23:08 GMT +00:00 · Published

Politicians reacted on Sunday to the recent controversy regarding the participation of African athletes at next week's half-marathon in the north-eastern Italian city of Trieste.

On Saturday the organisers of the event announced that they would not recruit African professional athletes for the race, saying that this was to draw attention to the exploitation of African runners, claiming that most of these athletes are not paid enough and are taken advantage of by managers.

According to the deputy mayor of Trieste Paolo Polidori it was all a "big misunderstanding." Polidori, a Lega Nord city counsellor, said that "on one hand there is the recruitment, that is, the organiser decides to give some money to fetch some athletes that otherwise wouldn't come, obviously good athletes. On the other hand there is the full freedom for everyone to participate."

However, the decision caused outrage all over the country and even the Italian Federation of Athletics condemned the decision. The Vice-President of the Regional Council of Friuli-Venezia, Giulia Francesco Russo said that "if really they wanted to send a message about some abuses that are done towards African athletes there were many other ways [to say it], there was the chance to speak with [sport] agents that work in a transparent way."

Similarly, European Parliament Member Cecile Kyenge said that "the right tools have to be used, not excluding the victims, but including, supporting, protecting the victims, making it clear that the victims can't be abandoned. In this situation, I see the opposite: tools used in an inadequate way," adding that "sport unifies, sport needs to send a different message, one that includes."

On Sunday, the organisers of the race announced that they would be reversing their decision and would recruit African athletes for the half-marathon.

Italy: Trieste half-marathon backtracks on excluding African runners after outcry03:13
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Politicians reacted on Sunday to the recent controversy regarding the participation of African athletes at next week's half-marathon in the north-eastern Italian city of Trieste.

On Saturday the organisers of the event announced that they would not recruit African professional athletes for the race, saying that this was to draw attention to the exploitation of African runners, claiming that most of these athletes are not paid enough and are taken advantage of by managers.

According to the deputy mayor of Trieste Paolo Polidori it was all a "big misunderstanding." Polidori, a Lega Nord city counsellor, said that "on one hand there is the recruitment, that is, the organiser decides to give some money to fetch some athletes that otherwise wouldn't come, obviously good athletes. On the other hand there is the full freedom for everyone to participate."

However, the decision caused outrage all over the country and even the Italian Federation of Athletics condemned the decision. The Vice-President of the Regional Council of Friuli-Venezia, Giulia Francesco Russo said that "if really they wanted to send a message about some abuses that are done towards African athletes there were many other ways [to say it], there was the chance to speak with [sport] agents that work in a transparent way."

Similarly, European Parliament Member Cecile Kyenge said that "the right tools have to be used, not excluding the victims, but including, supporting, protecting the victims, making it clear that the victims can't be abandoned. In this situation, I see the opposite: tools used in an inadequate way," adding that "sport unifies, sport needs to send a different message, one that includes."

On Sunday, the organisers of the race announced that they would be reversing their decision and would recruit African athletes for the half-marathon.

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