Did online reactions from Ethiopian netizens contributed to the move by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation to lift the suspension of Ethiopian athletes banned for not reporting for an early pre-Olympic camp? On Friday January 20, 2012 Ethiopian State Television (ETV) broke the news that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation has banned 35 athletes for an indefinite period – including double Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba from the London Games in a dispute over training. The suspension was lifted Tuesday January 24, 2012.
As the London Olympic championship is looming and resentment is fermenting amongst the public over deteriorating results of Ethiopian athletes in the past few years, the news of their suspension captured the interest of netizens.
The decision ignited hullabaloo and mixed reactions online. On January 20 journalist Ermias Amare responded in Amharic to the decision of the athletics governing body on his Facebook page:
የፍፃሜው መጀመሪያ እንዳይሆን፡፡ ቀነኒሳ፣ ጥሩነሽ፣ ስለሺ እና ሌሎች 13 ዕውቅ አትሌቶች በኢትዮጵያ አትሌቲክስ ፌዴሬሽን የቅጣት መዝገብ ላይ ሰፈሩ፡፡ ቅጣቱ ከማንኛውም ዓለምአቀፍ እና የሀገር ውስጥ ውድድር አትሌቶቹን ማገድ ነው፡፡ ቀጪውም ሆነ ተቀጪዎቹ ጋር ሥር የሰደደ ችግር እንዳለ በደንብ አውቃለሁ፡፡ የቀጪው አካሄድ ካልደፈረሰ አይጠራም ይመስላል፡፡ ጣጣው ግን ደፍርሶ ያልጠራ ዕለት ነው፡፡ እኔ በግሌ ማንን “ሃይ” እንደምል ጨንቆኛል፡፡
Addis Neger’s Facebook page linked to an article quoting Kenenisa Bekele's agent Jos Hermens:
It's good for forthcoming new athletes, but for people like (double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba) Dibaba or Kenenisa or (long distance great) Haile Gebrselassie, they have their individual programmes so you cannot just put them in a general programme from the federation.
Kiflu Hussain asked:
I wonder how much of this is politics & how much of it is pure matters of sport.
Eritrea would kill to have him run under its flag. If he is really considering running for another country, who else could be more Ethiopian than Eritrea? Let him run for us and we will give him a thousand soldiers march in as Asmara when he come back victorious. And, Weyanes would learn how to treat a hero.
Ban is a last resort measure .I don't think the EAF is serious banning all those great athletes ,it just want to give a harsh notice .I believe they can sort out a solution.
Jean larque argued that the problem is mixing politics with sports:
It's shame to hear this news from the federation. It's amazing all management staff members are politicians they do everything for the benefit of a leading party in the country. Kennenisa for Abyssinia
This is Micky's analysis of the problem:
Anyone who has ever dealt with officials in Ethiopia knows that the little power they have tends to go to their head.