Six athletes, including one woman, in Palestine team for Paris Olympics

Six athletes, including one woman, were selected to represent Palestine at the Paris Olympics, an official from the Palestinian Olympic Committee told The Associated Press on Monday.

The athletes will compete in boxing, judo, swimming, shooting and taekwondo, said Nader Jayousi, the technical director at the Palestinian Olympic Committee.

Jayousi said there was a remote possibility a seventh athlete in track and field could be added.

At the Tokyo Games, Palestine sent five athletes in swimming, track and field, weightlifting and judo. Barring injuries, the POC will have more athletes in Paris despite the war between Israel and Hamas that has brought the sports movement to a brutal halt since last October.

Contacted by The Associated Press, the IOC declined to comment on the Palestinian selection, recalling the athlete entries’ deadline for Paris is on July 8. The Olympics begin on July 24.

Only one Palestinian athlete — taekwondo fighter Omar Ismail — has directly qualified for Paris.

Jayousi said the others will be competing in France under a wild card system delivered as part of the universality quota places. Backed by the International Olympic Committee, it allows athletes who represent poorer nations with less-established sports programs to compete, even though they did not meet the sporting criteria.

Alongside Ismail, Jorge Antonio Salhe will compete in shooting, Yazan al Bawwab and Valerie Tarazi in swimming, Fares Badawi in judo, and Wasim Abusal in boxing. Al Bawwab competed in Tokyo.

According to Palestinian officials, about 300 athletes, referees, coaches and others working in sports have died since the war started. Among them was long-distance runner Majed Abu Maraheel, the first Palestinian to compete in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. He died of kidney failure after he was unable to be treated in Gaza and could not be evacuated to Egypt.

Much of the Palestinians' sporting infrastructure, clubs and institutions have been destroyed and Gaza-based athletes have been forced to leave to train.

Only 26 athletes have represented Palestine in Olympics’ history.


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