South Sudanese Refugee Deselected Ahead of Rio 2016, Coach Calls For Formal Investigation
Despite being the reigning South Sudanese 200m champion, Mangar Makur Chuot has been controversially rejected by his country’s Olympic committee.
Mangar Makur Chuot, a talented 200m runner who spent almost a decade as a refugee from the Sudanese civil war, has been controversially deselected from South Sudan's Olympic team only a week before the start of Rio 2016.
Chuot left Sudan as a child, after his father was killed in the country's long-running civil war. He spent eight years living in a refugee camp in Kenya, before being resettled in Australia. He was the Australian national 200m champion in 2014 and holds dual Australian-South Sudanese citizenship, but chose to represent South Sudan ahead of the Rio Olympics.
Now, The Guardian reports that he has been deselected by South Sudan's Olympic committee with barely a word of explanation. His coach, Lindsay Bunn, has launched an official complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) alleging possible corruption in the selection process.
Chuot's deselection comes despite the fact that he is widely considered to be one of South Sudan's best athletes. He is the reigning South Sudanese national champion in the 200m, and holds the national record in the event.
He holds a personal best time of 20.76 seconds, which is only 0.26 off the automatic Olympic qualifying time. Nonetheless, regardless of the fact that he was selected by South Sudan's athletics federation, he was rejected by the country's Olympic committee.
Chuot himself has declined to comment on the situation, but his coach has spoken out. In the aftermath of the decision, Bunn claimed that South Sudan's selection process has been tainted, and said: "I call on the International Olympic Committee and the International Athletics Federation to right this wrong and to fully investigate."
He also told The Guardian: "Mangar is devastated that his selection by the Southern Sudan Athletics Federation has been usurped at the very last minute. Right up until today he has been waiting with his bags packed for his flight details. He learnt of his removal from the selected team by a third party email."
Mangar has already been issued his athlete's accreditation for the Games, but the decision of the Olympic committee means he will not be able to compete. Rio 2016 represents South Sudan's first ever Olympics. Unfortunately, a man whom the secretary of the South Sudanese Athletics Federation has called "our best athlete" now looks set to miss out.