Former French basketball national faces losing Paris 2024 role over Gaza post

Former French basketball national faces losing Paris 2024 role over Gaza post

The board of the Paris 2024 Olympics organisers will hold an urgent meeting on Wednesday to address a controversy linked to a social media post about the Gaza war made by Olympics ambassador Emilie Gomis, a former French national basketball player.

On October 9, two days after Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, Gomis posted an  Instagram story which showed maps of France being gradually covered by the flag of Israel, accompanied by a question that read “What would you do in this situation?”

Critics accused the former basketball player of antisemitism and supporting Hamas’ attack, which Gomis strongly denied.

The controversy surrounding Gomis, a retired Franco-Senegalese athlete who had played for France for over 10 years, winning a Euro title in 2009, is the latest thorny issue to face the Games, which is already beset by geopolitical strains from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

“I have scheduled an administrative board meeting for today to decide on this issue”, Paris 2024 head Tony Estanguet told France Inter radio.

“It’s an important subject, because all the representatives of Paris 2024 today have a responsibility to appease and welcome all nations, because we will host the world from July 26”, he added.

Gomis has since issued an apology.

“The accusations of antisemitism I am facing are in total contradiction with the values that were instilled in me and that sport taught me,” Gomis said in a later social media post, apologising to “those who felt hurt”. Reuters could not immediately reach her for comment.

Her Instagram account currently has 17.7 thousand followers.

Paris 2024 said it wanted a joyous and safe Olympics for all, but organisers are worried that the event could get caught up in politics amid continuing wars in Gaza and Ukraine and France’s own internal security challenges.

“It’s obvious that the international context is particularly tense today,” Estanguet said. He had brought the Gomis case to the ethics committee which last month stated Gomis’ post constituted “a serious breach … of the ethical obligations.”

A decision after the board meeting was expected later on Wednesday.

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