Lebanese Olympic team refuses to share bus with Israelis

August 6, 2016  

Lebanese athletes refused to share a bus with Israeli counterparts to get to the Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony, members of both teams said today (Saturday).

Lebanon and Israel are officially at war and have no diplomatic relations.

Friday’s incident happened as the Lebanese team sat on the bus waiting to head to Rio’s mammoth Maracana stadium.

When the Israeli team arrived and attempted to board the bus, the head of the Lebanese team, Salim al-Haj Nicolas, demanded that the door be closed.

“But the Israeli athletes insisted on getting on,” he told AFP.

A post on the Facebook page of Udi Gal, a member of Israel’s Olympic sailing team, confirmed the account.

Organisers then intervened and invited the Israeli athletes to board other buses but they refused on the grounds of “security and of protocol,” said Gal.

“We insisted on boarding the bus, saying that if the Lebanese refused to stay with us, they could take another bus,” he added.

Al-Haj Nicolas’ version of this had the Israelis trying to force his team to leave the bus.

The two teams were eventually taken to the ceremony in different buses, so as to avoid an “international incident,” Gal said.

Arutz Sheva Staff Contributed to this report

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