The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has stripped Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli of his gold medal as he arrived three minutes late for the event.
Zolkefli won gold in the F20 shot put class but was later disqualified due to the fact that he arrived three minutes late for the start of the event. At the time he was allowed to compete as it was decided he had a “logical” reason for being late but an event referee later declared there was no “justifiable reason” for his lateness.
The decision to strip him of the medal has been met with uproar on social media and from Malaysians with Malaysian MP Fahmi Fadzil saying “Absolutely disgraceful! You should not have allowed the athletes to compete if they were late. Don't steal this hard-earned, world record-breaking medal from Ziyad.” Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizul Azumu said the country's National Sports Council had been ordered to investigate and added “The athletes have waited for five years but their hopes and spirits were destroyed by a delay of not even five minutes... this is something which is very sad.”
#Ziyad has been trending on social media with lots of anger being directed at Ukrainian athlete Maksym Koval who won the silver medal but was later promoted to gold following Zolkefli’s disqualification, Malaysian media outlets have reported that the Ukraine team lodged a protest against the lateness and this led to the disqualification.
IPC spokesperson Craig Spence said “I'm sorry. Rules are rules. The decision was taken. It wasn't the Ukrainians' fault that the Malaysian was late.” Two other athletes were late and it is believed they either did not hear call or it was in a language that they do not understand. An appeal has been lodged but this has been rejected.