Israeli table tennis player David Carsanti was supposed to compete on Monday morning against an Iranian player as part of the Special Olympics in Berlin. But when the Israeli athlete showed up to play, he was told that the coach of the opposing team refused to let his player participate. Carsanti earned a technical win.
Both table tennis players were called to their positions and stood together in the waiting area, ready to start the match, when the coach of the Iranian team approached the refereeing table and asked to disqualify his athlete, claiming he had a fever.
Gon Tzuri, head of the Israeli delegation to the Berlin Special Olympics, responded: “Today was the first day of the table tennis heat in the contest. When the Israeli athlete, David Carsanti and the Iranian athlete were at the waiting point, the Iranian coach realized his team was to compete with Israel and said his athlete was ill. At that moment, I turned to the organizers of the competition and asked to disqualify the entire Iranian delegation for interjecting politics into the Special Olympics. I hope we won’t encounter similar situations in the future.”
The International Special Olympics games are held once every four years, allowing athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete in a wide variety of sports, to show the world their tremendous abilities.
The International Special Olympics is among the largest sports events in the world. The games began on Sunday, with a spectacular opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Some 7,000 athletes with cognitive disabilities from 180 different countries will compete in 26 different sports. The games also involve 20,000 volunteers, 3,000 coaches, and an estimated audience of 300,000.