A South Sudanese long distance runner, Guor Marial, is seeking last minute permission to run as an independent athlete at the 2012 Olympics in London, as the new state of South Sudan is not yet able to send an official team to the games.
Speaking to AlertNet, Mariol said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had suggested he run for Sudan, which he vehemently rejected.
South Sudan needs to establish a National Olympic Committee before it is able to send an official team.
Marial, who fled as a refugee from the conflict and now lives in the US, received an invite from Sudan, requesting that he joins their team.
Marial told AlertNet,
“I lost my family and relatives, and in South Sudan 2 million people died,”
“For me to just go and represent Sudan is a betrayal of my country first of all, and is disrespecting my people who died for freedom.”
The refugee rights group, Refugees International, supported Marial's request to run as an independent competitor, and wrote to the IOC criticising their suggestion that he runs for Sudan.
The group's president, Michel Gabaudan, wrote,
“Numerous members of Mr Marial’s family have been killed by Sudanese security forces, and he himself has suffered serious physical abuse at the hands of Sudanese police,”
“The threats against him are serious and were recognised as such when he gained refugee status in the United States."
"Therefore, asking Mr Marial to submit once again to Sudanese authority as an Olympic athlete is not acceptable.”
“Allowing Sudan to carve out a special exception for Mr Marial is inappropriate when hundreds of thousands like him have had their nationalities revoked en masse with no possibility of appeal,”