Bahrain revoked the citizenship of a naturalized Kenyan runner for racing in Israel h/t @ChallahHuAkbar

September 14, 2012

Kenyan-born Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain holds his national flag as he celebrates winning the men’s 1,500 metres final during the World Athletics Championships Berlin in this Aug. 19, 2009 file photo. (photo by REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files)

On Jan. 4, 2007, Bahraini runner Mushir Salem Jawhar won a marathon in Israel, thus becoming the first athlete from an Arab country to participate in an Israeli sports tournament. The Bahrainis were not happy to see one of their nationals raising their country’s flag in the Tiberias Sports Stadium. [The incident] was met with a wave of condemnation.
As a result, the Bahraini Athletics Federation removed Jawhar’s name from the federation’s lists, and the authorities decided to confiscate his passport and strip him of his Bahraini [citizenship]. The poor guy returned to Kenya, his country of origin, and to his real name, Leonard Moshiromaina, by which he was known in sports stadiums before he was brought to Bahrain as part of a campaign that aims to naturalize foreign athletes.
The “scandal” of the Kenyan/Bahraini runner did not put an end to the policy of athlete naturalization in Bahrain or other Gulf Arab states. Apart from requiring new naturalized athletes to not participate in sports competitions in Israel, Bahrain has not stopped the naturalization of athletes.
As we have seen in the London Olympics recently, 10 out of 13 male and female participants representing Bahrain were Kenyans and Ethiopians. To Bahraini sports officials, these athletes are the fastest and probably the cheapest way to raise the country’s flag in international arenas. As long as it is possible to obtain athletes from Africa and Asia, Bahraini officials will find no reason to provide the necessary infrastructure, services and training plans to prepare local athletes.