Commonwealth Games

Schoeman rant causes storm

2010-10-09 09:15
Roland Schoeman (Gallo Images)

Delhi - Delhi's troubled Commonwealth Games was plunged into a racism storm on Saturday after South African swimmer Roland Schoeman described a largely Indian crowd of acting like "monkeys".

Gallery: More gold for Team SA

Schoeman, a former world record holder, was furious that the noise generated at the start of his 50m freestyle semi-final meant he entered the water too early.

"It's unacceptable to be at a professional event like this and have people going on like monkeys. Someone like that doesn't deserve to be here," fumed the South African who was allowed to restart and qualified for Saturday's final.

"It's an absolute disgrace. There's a guy in the stands just shouting, shouting, shouting. Somebody like that needs to be ejected."

Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the organising committee, condemned the remarks on Saturday as "unfortunate" while Mike Fennell, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said any racist outbursts would not be tolerated.

"It's unfortunate," said Bhanot, who added that he was reluctant to take the matter up with the South African authorities.

"These are the friendly Games, so we do not want to lodge an official complaint," he said.

Fennell insisted that any behaviour which had a racial element would be pounced upon.

"We do not tolerate racial slurs or abusive behaviour, and when it happens we have to take measures to control it. People will be dealt with according to proper measures."

Schoeman immediately launched a damage-limitation exercise, using his Twitter account to make clear that his anger was directed at just one person.

"For the first time in my life I had someone scream out as we were going to start the 50m freestyle," he wrote on the micro-blogging site.

"I've never experienced something like that before. The behaviour by that individual was unacceptable and my comments are directed solely at him. The spectators have been fantastic here. But an individual like that doesn't deserve to be sitting poolside at an international competition."

Unfortunately for the organisers, Schoeman's outburst is the latest worrying incident as relations between teams, spectators and officials have become increasingly strained.

India's national archery coach Limba Ram claimed he was abused by a foreign official after his women's team won gold by beating England on Friday.

"I extended my hand to this person wearing white and red. He shoved my hand away and told me 'f*** ***'," Ram told the Hindustan Times.

England's archery team leader, Hilda Gibson, said she was unaware of the incident.

"I didn't see any such thing. I didn't receive any official complaint either. Our official team kit for archery is red. So I am not sure whether that person was part of our team," Gibson told the newspaper.

There have been regular complaints over the behaviour of crowds at the Games, particulary at the Yamuna Sports Complex where the archery is being held.

England complained about the boisterous crowd after India's win on Friday.

Amy Oliver said the chanting of "Come on India" as she performed was against the spirit of the sport.

"The crowd was not good. They were pretty loud - it was not good sportsmanship," she said.

The Indian government has already complained over remarks by New Zealand TV presenter Paul Henry who made fun of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit's surname.

In English, the pronunciation is closer to "Dixit".

"It is shocking that such bigoted views have been aired by a representative of a mainstream media organisation of a multi-ethnic democracy like New Zealand," India's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"These remarks are totally unacceptable to India and should be condemned by all right-thinking people and nations."

Read more on:    cwg  |  roland schoeman  |  delhi

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