Tunisia arrests sports officials in flag dispute

sports officials

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied lashed out at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for a supposed slight in the latest of a string of authoritarian moves. Saied dissolved and arrested sports officials of the country’s national swimming federation and Anti-Doping Organization (ANAD) after its flag was covered at an event in Tunis,, according to AFP on May 12th.

The sports officials were apprehended after Tunisia’s flag was covered during the country’s Open Masters championship, at the Rades Olympic pool on May 10th.

On May 10th, a video released by Saied’s office showed the president visiting the Rades Olympic pool, near Tunis, raising the Tunisian flag and singing the national anthem.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani and other cabinet members, Saied said the country could not tolerate WADA’s penalties and that “Tunisia comes before the Olympic Committee and before any other committees,” while purportedly calling the exclusion of Tunisia’s flag “an act of aggression,” as reported by The New Arab.

READ: Tunisian police release journalist who filmed critic’s arrest

In a statement issued late on May 10th, Tunisia’s youth and sports ministry announced the dissolution of the swimming federation’s board, as-well-as the dismissal of ANAD’s chief and sports official in Ben Arous, near Tunis.

The chiefs of both agencies, along with seven others were subsequently arrested following pressure from Saied to “take immediate measures… against those responsible” for covering the flag.

READ: Tunisia: Three Saied critics arrested is police raid

In announcing the ban, WADA said that, until Tunisia complies with 2021’s revised World Anti-Doping Code, it would not host major sporting events and will be barred from flying its flag at sporting events, including the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tunisian authorities have announced amendments to bring it in line with requirements but WADA has yet to lift its sanctions.

The country has one defending Olympic swimming champion, 21-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui, who claimed to be suffering an unspecified injury on May 8th which might prevent him competing in Paris.

AFP / The New Arab


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

[mc4wp_form id="206"]