Marathon (Archive photo)
Photo: Sasson Tiram
Authorities have revoked the Bahraini citizenship of a Kenyan-born athlete who ran in an Israeli marathon, the nation's athletic union said Saturday.
Bahraini runner Mushir Salem Jawher competed and won the Tiberias Marathon in Israel on Thursday, ending the race in just over 2 hours and 13 minutes.
Most Arab states do not recognize Israel, and the Jerusalem Post newspaper said Jawher was the first athlete from an Arab country to compete in an Israeli marathon. Jawher was born in Kenya in 1978 and moved to Bahrain in 2003, according to the International Association of Athletics Federation.
The Jerusalem Post cited Jawher as saying he was "very proud" to have run in Israel. Even though Bahrain has no official ties with the Jewish state, "It is a free country," the athlete was quoted as saying.
Bahrain's Athletic Union said in a statement Saturday that it had received the news that a Bahraini national competed in Israel with "shock and regret."
"The union deeply regrets what the athlete has done," the statement said. A comity of sport and government authorities decided to strike Jawher's name off the sport union records and strip off his Bahraini nationality, the statement said.
It said Jawher had entered Israel with his Kenyan passport and added that the runner's Bahraini citizenship was revoked because he had "violated the laws of Bahrain." The tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has no official ties with Israel but is a close political ally of the United States. The oil-refining and banking island also hosts the US 5th Fleet.