Last-ditch bid to CAS for Chuot to make team

A sign of the Court of Arbitration for Sport is seen on July 21 at its headquarters in Lausanne.
A sign of the Court of Arbitration for Sport is seen on July 21 at its headquarters in Lausanne.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO • The Australian-South Sudanese sprinter Mangar Makur Chuot's campaign to be reinstated to run at the Rio Olympics will be considered in a last-minute adjudication by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set up at the Games.

The court has appointed a three-member panel to hear the appeal, lodged in parallel with an appeal from the South Sudanese athletics federation, to allow him to run.

A decision on the 26-year-old's Olympic future is expected by today.

The challenges follow Chuot's controversial last-minute non-selection by the South Sudanese national Olympic committee, amid concessions from the country's Olympic chief that an advertising deal with Samsung had influenced team selection.

Chuot, a former refugee who fled civil war in his homeland and was discovered running in a park in Western Australia before winning both Australian and South Sudanese national titles, was formally selected for Rio by the South Sudan athletics federation last December.

He had discussed travel plans with senior officials and had been issued with accreditation for the Games. However last Thursday - eight days before the start of the 17-day event - he was told by e-mail that he had been dropped from the contingent.

In the days since, the excitement of South Sudan's first Olympic team - representing the world's newest nation - has been overshadowed by team selection controversy, amid admissions that a global advertising deal swayed their selection.

Two of the three runners in the team were deregistered by their country's athletics federation, ostensibly prohibiting them from competition.

The secretary-general of South Sudan's national Olympic committee, Tong Chor Malek Deran, has said in correspondence with athletes, and in interviews, that he felt pressured to choose one of the athletes selected for Rio, sprinter Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan.

This was because she was the centrepiece of a global advertising campaign for Samsung, despite the fact that she was not the fastest runner in the country.

Samsung is a "worldwide Olympic partner" of the Rio Games, the highest level of sponsorship. The company has denied any involvement in team selection.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline 'Last-ditch bid to CAS for Chuot to make team'. Print Edition | Subscribe