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Saturday, July 10, 2004

Olympic Mind Games

Marion Vella is a member of Malta's Olympic Gold-winning Women's National Basketball team. Besides basketball, she also has a passion for environmental issues. She is from Mgarr. Last Tuesday she was the 587th person to sign an online petition to get the Bruges dolfinarium closed. She is not the only Maltese person who has signed this petition. Ms. Vella is a supporter of Malta's Green Party, Alternattiva Demokratika (AD). During the recent European Parliament election she publicly endorsed Arnold Cassola in his run for a seat in the Euro house of representatives.

Would you believe that the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC) has threatened to sanction her because of her public support for Cassola? AD has written to the MOC asking several important questions, which essentially boil down to one simple question: when did Marion Vella lose her right to express her political views?

The MOC is surely aware of such human rights as freedom of expression and freedom of association! In fact, during past political campaigns various well-known Maltese athletes endorsed other political parties or candidates and rightly so no action was taken.

Is the MOC unaware of the historical connection between the Olympic Games and politics? Has the MOC never heard of the medal-winning black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos who used the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City to protest racism in the USA by showing their support for the Black Panthers? As they received their medals for the 200 meter sprint, gold medalist Smith and bronze medalist Carlos raised their black-gloved clenched fists high above their heads in a salute identified with Black Power. When the International Olympic Committee expelled them it faced the wrath of the oppressed and all free thinking people around the world. Dare I mention the horrible bloodshed during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich?

I doubt that Ms. Vella is as bold as Smith and Carlos, but I'd be shocked if the MOC actually decides to censor her in any way. I'm sure Mr. Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco (who according to the MOC website is President of the executive board) will see the folly in even bringing up any queries against Ms. Vella's rights and her political beliefs. This matter is undoubtedly below his honor's standards.

Are PN sympathizers (particularly those appointed to the MOC executive board) really that sore about all the votes the Nationalist Party says it lost to AD in the European Parliament election? I hope this is not the general sentiment from the PN camp towards AD and its supporters.

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