Asian Games: 'Different cultures' cause sexual harassment, says OCA boss

Asia’s Olympic boss apologised today over sexual harassment cases at the Asian Games.

But he also said there must be an understanding of “different traditions” and highlighted the small number of incidents involved.

Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said the body had acted quickly after a female volunteer accused an Iranian official of sexual harassment and allegations were made against a Palestinian footballer.

But he added: “To also be reasonable, we need to understand the tradition and different cultures. We believe this kind of Games brings different cultures from all of Asia together.

“With different cultures, sometimes this creates a problem,” he added. “That kind of accident can happen.”

More than 13,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries and territories from the Middle East to Japan in east Asia are taking part in the Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon.

Groping a female worker

The OCA expelled Iran’s equipment manager Amereh Ahmad for verbal harassment.

Prosecutors are considering whether to press charges after the Palestinian was accused of groping a female worker in an athletes’ village laundry.

Read the previous report here.

The alleged incidents took place a few days before Friday’s official opening and the organising committee put up strongly-worded signs in the Games village warning against harassment.

Apologise, take action

“From the beginning, the OCA refused this kind of behaviour,” Sheikh Ahmad told a press conference.

He said a “strict resolution” had been taken, including suspending those involved and removing their accreditation. “It was good solution for everybody,” the Kuwaiti added.

“We apologise, we take action, we hope these kinds of accident bring more experience (for education),” he said.

“We speak of one or two cases out of thousands of participants,” Sheikh Ahmad said. “That’s 00000.1 percent.”

“At the end I hope this is not to be repeated,” he added, saying he hadn’t heard of any other cases. - AFP