Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, a Malaysian shot putter, appeared to have won gold in the F20 shot put. He was disqualified following his victory on Tuesday because he arrived late for the competition.
After failing to show on time for the event, Zolkefli and two others — who did not make the podium — were allowed to compete under protest, according to International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence.
“They were late, and they may have had a good cause for being late,” Spence explained, “but we let them compete and look at the facts thereafter.”
A referee ruled after the event that “there was no justifiable cause for the competitors’ inability to report” on time, according to a statement from World Para Athletics, which supervises track and field for para-athletes. An appeal was also denied, according to the report.
Due to the disqualification, Maksym Koval of Ukraine won gold, and Oleksandr Yarovyi of Ukraine got silver. Greece’s Efstratios Nikolaidis won bronze.
According to Spence, the disqualification sparked outrage on social media. It was “extremely abusive,” he said. A lot of it was aimed at Ukrainians.
“We’re getting comments on all of our social media posts now that have nothing to do with the men’s shot put F20 event,” Spence explained. “The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee was receiving a lot of vitriol from Malaysians,” he claimed.
“Sorry for the inconvenience. Rules are rules, and rules are rules “Spence said. “The choice was made. The Malaysian’s tardiness was not the responsibility of the Ukrainians.”
The three were three minutes late, according to Spence. He stated that he did not believe this was a severe punishment. “Some people arrive five minutes early,” he explained.
The Malaysian and the two others said they “didn’t hear the announcement or it was in a language” they didn’t understand, according to Spence.
Athletes with intellectual impairments compete in the F20 shot put division.
Through an email address provided by IPC officials, the Associated Press attempted to contact the Malaysian delegation. On Wednesday, there was no instant answer.
Malaysia was stripped of the World Para Swimming Championships by the IPC in early 2019 because it refused to guarantee that Israeli swimmers would be able to compete.
Spence stated that the reaction was similar at the time.
“At the time, the level of abuse aimed at the IPC was through the sky,” Spence said.