The Olympic Games reveals that Egypt is a country that expels champion athletes

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which are currently being held in Japan, revealed that many Egyptian heroes have emigrated to other countries, have been naturalised and are now representing them in the Olympics, which reflects the failure of the sports system in Egypt.

Faris Hassouna, Adam Asil, Ashraf Al-Saifi, Ahmed Abdel Wahed and Shadi Al-Nahhas are all Egyptian heroes, but government neglect, nepotism and favouritism that govern the sports community pushed them to emigrate and play on behalf of other countries, where some of them succeeded in obtaining Olympic medals.

Weightlifter Fares Hassouna, a Qatari of Egyptian origin, won the gold medal in the men’s weightlifting competitions weighing 96 kilograms at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, giving Qatar the first gold medal in its Olympic history. Faris Hassouna scored 177 kilograms in the snatching competitions, and 225 kilograms in the netting competitions, with a total weight of 402 kilograms, which is a new Olympic record.

Captain Ibrahim Hassouna, Fares’ father, and the coach of the Qatari national team for weightlifting, said that the reason why his son played for Qatar was that he did not find the necessary support in his country, stressing that in Qatar there is great interest in training Olympic champions, unlike the general climate in Egypt, which is full of problems and conflicts.

In addition to Fares, the hammer thrower of Egyptian origin, Ashraf Al-Saifi, represented Qatar in the Tokyo Olympics, and reached the final competitions, but he did not win an Olympic medal. It is noteworthy that Ashraf won the junior championship in Egypt at the age of 15, after which he was invited to complete his training in Qatar, to move to Doha in 2011 and obtain Qatari citizenship, becoming the first representative of Qatar to throw the hammer in the world championships. Al-Saifi won eight medals (four gold – two silver – two bronze) in various tournaments, in addition to breaking the hammer throwing record at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Sri Lanka.

Other less popular models

Attention turned to Hassouna and Al-Saifi because they play for Qatar, which does not have good relations with Egypt, and for Hassouna’s success in obtaining a historic gold medal that would have belonged to Egypt if there was government interest. There are other Egyptians who play for other countries, who did not win medals in the Olympics, but are still talented in their field.

On top of these is Adam Aseel, the Egyptian gymnastics champion who represented Turkey in the Tokyo Olympics and reached the finals to compete for three Olympic medals, but luck was not on his side. Adam was playing for Egypt before he travelled to Turkey in 2017. Another example is Shadi Al-Nahhas, a judo champion of Egyptian origin, who represented Canada in the Olympics, and narrowly lost the bronze medal. Al-Nahhas has a promising future, as this is his first Olympic games, and in his sports career he has won nine medals (four gold – three silver – two bronze) in various tournaments.

Why do athletes flee Egypt?

On July 31, Chinese weightlifter LYU Xiaojun won the men’s weightlifting gold medal, weighing 81 kilograms, after he lifted 374 kilograms, and the Dominican weightlifter Zacarias Bonnat Michel won the silver medal for the same weight, after he succeeded in lifting 367 kilograms. At the 2018 World Championships, Egyptian weightlifter Mohamed Ehab won the silver medal for men’s weightlifting, weighing 81 kilograms, after he succeeded in lifting 373 kilograms, and he broke the record in the snatching competitions after he succeeded in lifting 173 kilograms. Ehab won the bronze medal for Egypt in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in men’s weightlifting, weight of 79 kilograms.

What does this mean? It means that Egypt has an Olympic champion who was able to easily win a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Where is Ehab then? Did he lose? Unfortunately, Ehab did not participate in the Tokyo Olympics due to the decision of the International Weightlifting Federation to suspend the Egyptian Federation for the game for two years, after it was proven that several players – not including Ehab – used performance-enhancing drugs.

The Egyptian Weightlifting Federation bears the responsibility for stopping Egypt for two years and depriving it of guaranteed Olympic medals, as several players confirmed that steroids were sold to players in the national teams’ camps in full view of everyone, without anyone moving a finger, led by the Minister of Sports who was informed of this and did nothing. After all this, if the player Mohamed Ehab decided to travel abroad to any country and play in its name can anyone blame him?

Many players complained about the federations neglecting them, led by Muhammad Ibrahim Kisho, who yesterday won the bronze medal in the 67-kilogram weight category in Roman wrestling. A few months ago, Kisho entered a conflict with the Egyptian Wrestling Federation, due to the desire of the president of the federation to impose one coach for all the players of the team, a coach who failed to qualify any player for the Olympics. Most of the players who trained under him were injured. The matter was only resolved by the intervention of the Minister of Sports more than once to solve the crisis.

Above all, the rewards that Olympic champions receive are meager when compared to what their counterparts receive in developing countries such as Egypt. For example, Egyptian Olympic medalists receive a reward ranging between $32,000 and $64,000, depending on the type of medal, while their counterparts in Singapore earn about $737,000. In Kazakhstan the figure is about $250,000, in Malaysia about $236,000, in Italy about $213,000, and in the Philippines about $200,000.