216 Rio Games organizers would welcome Pistorius
LONDON (AP) — Brazilian Olympic and Paralympic organizers would welcome Oscar Pistorius to compete at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro if the South African runner is declared eligible.
The double-amputee athlete began a five-year jail sentence last week for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but he could be released after 10 months. Both South Africa’s Olympic committee and Paralympic officials say, however, that Pistorius can’t compete for the full five years of his jail sentence.
“It’s not for us to judge him personally,” Rio communications director Mario Andrada said on Tuesday in London. “He was judged by the South African judicial system. As soon as he fulfils his obligations with that system he will be a free man and a free man is entitled to compete wherever he wants.
“We have to keep in our prayers and thoughts both families. It was a tragedy ... but he will be welcome in Brazil like anybody else.
On the sidelines of the Host City Bid to Win conference, Andrada stressed that “all the athletes are welcome” in Rio in the “Olympic spirit.”
Pistorius, who was found guilty of the negligent killing of Steenkamp, was the first amputee to compete alongside able-bodied runners at the Olympics when he ran in the 400 meters and 4x400 relay in London in 2012.
The “Blade Runner” then ran at the Paralympics, winning gold in the 400 meters and the 4x100. But there was controversy when Pistorius lost his 200-meter title and complained that winner Alan Oliveira gained an unfair advantage by using lengthened blades.
A renewal of that rivalry would be welcomed by Rio organizers.
“If both of them are there to race, that will be a great re-match,” Andrada said. “This would be maybe be a homage of the race they had in London. This would be one of the greatest events of the Paralympics.”
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris