SPORTS

IOC puts Olympic athletes election result on hold as Japan appeals Murofushi exclusion

08/12/2012 09:55 EDT | Updated 10/12/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - The IOC postponed accepting four elected athletes as new members on Sunday after Japan appealed its candidate's exclusion for campaigning too hard at the London Games.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said "legal issues" prevented the new athletes' representatives from joining on Sunday.

"There are protests against the decision we have taken," Rogge said, referring to an IOC board ruling Saturday to remove Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi and Taiwanese taekwondo fighter Chu Mu-yen from the contest.

"There is no doubt that rules were infringed. Out of respect for the athletes who have observed the rules, we had to take action," the IOC president told reporters at a briefing.

Murofushi, who won a bronze medal in the hammer, and Chu placed in the top four among 21 candidates seeking eight-year terms as IOC members. Almost 7,000 athletes voted, comprising 64 per cent of London Games participants.

Japan Olympic officials have formally challenged Murofushi's exclusion. They claimed Saturday that he was being punished for calling up the IOC website on his tablet computer to explain the committee to a voter.

Taiwan did not appeal, though Chu defended his actions at a news conference Saturday. He said he received a letter from the IOC claiming he distributed sweets to athletes.

"At noon of (Thursday), I explained to the IOC that I have never given any lollipops to anyone," Chu said. "At the same time, I honestly did tell them I had used my iPad to explain to other athletes the IOC procedures of this voting, but I stopped doing it after I received the warning letter on July 26."

IOC Athletes Commission chairman Frank Fredericks said it received "complaints regarding the campaign behaviour of two candidates."

Fredericks said election rules limited candidates to publishing their campaign statement on a one-page document provided by the IOC, and making 3-minute video presentations which were broadcast on a regular loop at the athletes village.

With Murofushi and Chu removed, the election was won by Danka Bartekova (Slovakia, shooting); James Tomkins (Australia, rowing); Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe, swimming); Tony Estanguet (France, canoeing).

They were set to replace four athletes whose IOC terms expired, including Fredericks and former 1,500- and 5,000-meter gold medallist Hicham El Guerrouj.

The commission includes 12 athletes elected, plus others appointed, to represent their peers among the 100-plus IOC members.

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