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By Phillip Hersh
According to Ciring Hiteng Ofuno, South Sudan’s minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, the country’s president, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit wrote IOC president Jacques Rogge on behalf of Marial.
In an email, Ofuno called the communications with the IOC “fruitless.”
"It is unfortunate that an independent country is unable to be granted even the symbolic right to participate as a member of the world family of nations," Ofuno wrote. "It is a pity that institutions established by human beings can be so rigid to that extent."
Ofuno also acknowledged that the ministry’s staff must "redouble their efforts" in the process of joining international bodies like the IOC so the country does not miss such events in the future.
In later emails, the minister decried the idea of having Marial be linked to Sudan and "run under the flag of our harshest and brutal oppressors, the very reason why we separated." Ofuno called the IOC "extravagantly insensitive to the history of peoples."
Michel Gabaudan, the president of Refugees International, wrote Rogge Tuesday reiterating the reasons why it is inappropriate for Marial to compete for Sudan and asking that he be allowed to compete as an independent athlete.
"Numerous members of Mr. Marial’s family have been killed by Sudanese security forces, and he himself has suffered serious physical abuse at the hands of Sudanese police," Gabaudan’s letter said. "The threats against him are serious and were recognized as such when he gained refugee status in the United States. Therefore, asking Mr. Marial to submit once again to Sudanese authority as an Olympic athlete is not acceptable."
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