The Lebanese Olympic team refused to ride on a bus with Israeli athletes traveling to the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, according to members of both teams.
The Lebanese team were allegedly seated on a bus waiting to set off for the Maracana Stadium on Friday evening, when the Israeli team arrived and also attempted to board the vehicle.
Head of the Lebanese team, Salim al-Haj Nicolas, told AFP News Agency he demanded that the door be closed on the Israeli team who “insisted on getting on”.
Lebanese Olympians refuse to travel on same bus as Israeli team https://t.co/lSD8Jv64Ry
— The Independent (@Independent) August 8, 2016
Udi Gal, a member of Israel’s Olympic sailing team, said on Facebook: “We insisted on boarding the bus, saying that if the Lebanese refused to stay with us, they could take another bus.”
Gal said organizers intervened and the two teams traveled to the event in separate vehicles to “prevent an international and physical incident”.
The Olympic organizing committee has not yet issued a statement about the incident. However, this is not the first time hostility has been reported between Lebanese and Israeli athletes during the Olympics.
— Dyab Abou Jahjah (@Aboujahjah) August 8, 2016
During the London 2012 Olympics, the Telegraph reported that then Lebanon judo team refused to train alongside the Israeli team, allegedly demanding that a screen be erected so they would not be able to see each other.
Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations. It is a decade since Israel was involved in a month-long war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
The 2006 conflict killed an estimated 1,200 Lebanese, including hundreds of civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of whom were soldiers.
(PC, The Independent, BBC)