South African Blocked From Sochi

Despite IOC invite, national government won't let skier compete

Speelman hails from South Africa's East Cape province.     Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Despite an invitation from the IOC, South Africa's government won't let a slalom skier compete at Sochi, according to the AP.

Sive Speelman, an 18-year-old from the rural and poor Eastern Cape province, would have been South Africa's sole Olympian in the upcoming Winter Games.

Speelman fell outside of the top 2,000 skiers internationally, but garnered enough points for a different qualifying standard. Although the international skiing federation and the South African snow sports federation both seconded the IOC's invitation, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) blocked Speelman from competing.

In a statement, SASCOC pledged to "continue to adhere to its selection policies in order to ensure participation ... is of the highest quality." In other words, Speelman isn't good enough.

South African athletes have competed in every Winter Games since 1994, when the country was readmitted to the IOC following apartheid. Speelman could have been the first athlete from his country to win a medal at the Winter Games.

Morocco, Togo, and Zimbabwe are the only African nations competing in Sochi.

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