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Somalia suspends chairwoman of national athletics federation

Thursday August 3, 2023

The Somali Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that it has suspended the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation for selecting an “unskilled” female athlete to represent the country at the FISU World University Games in China.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Youth and Sports said Sports Minister Mohamed Barre Mohamud had directed the Olympic committee to take the action against Khadija Aden Dahir.

The Somali Athletics Federation said Dahir has been temporarily suspended and was accused of “national defamation.”

"It is clear to the ministry that Nasra (Abukar Ali) is not an athlete, and that Mrs. Khadija committed an act of abuse of power and defamation of the nation," the sports ministry said.

Mohamud apologized to the Somali people and described Ali’s performance as an “embarrassment.”

“What happened today was not a representation of the Somali people,” he added.

Dahir was dismissed after the Somali government came under criticism from Somalis, who demanded answers from the government and accused it of corruption.

Ali, 20, finished last in the women’s 100-meter race at the 31st Summer World University Games in Chengdu, China. A video of her performance has gone viral with millions of views since it was shared on social media.

Some Somalis took to social media to criticize the Ministry of Youth and Sports for sending an "untrained" athlete to a high-profile event.

“The Ministry of Youth and Sports should step down. It's disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running? It's truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally,” Elham Garaad said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Allegations have surfaced that Ali was given the chance to compete at the games because she is a relative of Dahir.