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The National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine protested the gold medal performance by Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli because he showed up three minutes late for the competition. An appeal was launched, however, was denied. Malaysian citizens attacked organisers and the committee with vitriol over several social media platforms.
Zolkefli has a cognitive impairment and competes in the F20 category.
Ukrainian, Maksym Kovalwho, who had finished second was bumped up to gold.
Simple logic is, if he was late to arrive into the callroom than he should have been disqualified earlier. But letting him to play and disqualifying him after he recorded his second world record is totally unethical and unprofessional. Justice should be prevailed for Ziyad pic.twitter.com/qkpZOgrzOH— SHAKTIVELL M.LETCHUMANAN (@ShaktivellL) August 31, 2021
International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said Zolkefli and two others, who did not reach the podium, were allowed to compete under protest after they failed to appear on time for the event.
“They were late, they may have had a logical reason for being late, and therefore we allowed them to compete and look at the facts of the matter afterward,” Spence said.
“A massive attack addressed to Ukrainian Paralympics athletes was carried out on the page of the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, on the Equalympic TV channel, as well as on the page of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, by citizens of Malaysia with a very large number of insults towards Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, national Paralympic team in connection with the just protest that Ukraine has filed against all athletes – shot putters (F20) who did not get into the first call room on August 31, at the athletics competition,” the press service of the committee said.
Apparently, the rules state that when an athlete is late for the first call room at the set time, he should not be allowed to compete. Also, an athlete can be allowed to start under protest, which Zolkefli did. However, after an investigation, the technical delegate made the decision to disqualify the athlete.
“Ukraine, together with Greece, filed a protest against three athletes from the teams of Malaysia, Ecuador and Australia, who did not get to the first call room on time, even before the competition – before the start of the shot put. All athletes against whom a protest had been filed, were warned that they will perform under the protest. And the decision on the protest will be made later. After the end of the type of program, the technical delegate announced the official results of the competition, where the results of the protested athletes were canceled. Ukraine has done everything according to the rules of athletics, ” the message says.