The following call was issued by Nkosi Zwelivelile Royal House of Mandela Mvezo Komkhulu based in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The statement was read at a June 12, 2024, solidarity rally in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In solidarity with the athletes and the Palestinian people and in response to the call from over 300 Palestinian sports teams demanding the exclusion of Israel from the Olympics due to its genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza and its apartheid regime, we must not remain passive.

We call on sectors of society, sports federations, arts and culture formations, labor unions and all worker formations, faith-based movements, student and academic bodies, NGOs and CBOs (community-based organizations) and ordinary people from all walks of life to support this call. We can’t play with genocide, and apartheid Israel has no place at the Olympic Games.

We demand the exclusion of Israel from the 2024 Olympics! We remind the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that by allowing Israel to participate in the Olympics, they are enabling Israel to use the games to whitewash its genocide in Gaza and its apartheid regime against Palestinians worldwide.

The President of the IOC, Mr. Thomas Bach, stated during the preparation session for the 2024 Olympics: “These will be younger, more urban, more inclusive, more responsible games.”

However, is it truly responsible not to take sanctions against Israel? Only by banning Israel from the games will the Olympic spirit and values be respected. There can be no normal sport in an abnormal society.

The Olympic Charter clearly obliges the IOC to respect “internationally recognized human rights and the fundamental universal ethical principles within the framework of the Olympic Movement.”

However, we have not seen the IOC take any responsibility to end or sanction the severe human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian athletes and sports infrastructure. In contrast, the IOC has excluded Russia and Belarus from this international competition. We do not accept this “double standard.”

Israel has deliberately targeted Palestinian sports and flagrantly violated the rights of Palestinians to practice sports. Israeli occupation forces have shot Palestinian athletes to kill or mutilate them deliberately. In Gaza, Israel killed the Palestinian Olympic football coach, Hani Al Masdar, and destroyed the office of the Palestinian Olympic Committee.

The IOC must follow its own precedent in expelling apartheid South Africa from the Olympic Games for its brutality, oppression and discrimination. Apartheid Israel is infinitely worse than South Africa. Apartheid Israel is guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and systematic genocide.

Palestinian athletes targeted

We cannot allow them to get away with murder. They must be isolated from the family of nations and not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. Israeli settlement clubs and sports stadiums are built on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, in violation of international law.

Israel has bombed Palestinian stadiums, raided sports clubs, disrupted matches, confiscated sports equipment and denied Palestinian Olympic athletes their right to freedom of movement. For all these reasons, let us ban the genocidal Israeli entity from the Olympic Games!

We must stand in solidarity with the athletes and the Palestinian people! We stand with the just struggle of the Palestinian people just as we stand for human rights, justice and dignity for all humankind. As long as there is a single human being suffering anywhere in the world, our struggle is far from over. We make a special appeal to students all over the world. Your voices have been the most powerful over the past few months.

Let us continue this mass mobilization of students even when campuses close for holidays. We want to hear your voices calling on the IOC to ban apartheid Israel from Olympics 2024.

This statement has been lightly edited.

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