Rugby’s position at the Olympic Games could be lost in the wake of the Francis Kean saga that has rocked the current World Rugby elections.
Kean, chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union, was Fiji’s representative nominated to run for a place on World Rugby’s executive committee – a nomination that was seconded by the French Rugby Federation.
However, Kean – who was a supporter of World Rugby chairman candidate Bill Beaumont – has since withdrawn his bid for a spot on the executive committee and resigned from his role at the FRU amid accusations of “rampant homophobia” and discrimination.
Those allegations of the man convicted of manslaughter in 2007 could yet have a significant impact on whether rugby remains in the Olympics.
According to the Daily Mail, the controversy has alleviated concerns about the vetting process of the officials who run the game, which could be in breach of the International Olympic Committee code of ethics.
The report reveals that ex-Samoa captain and Pacific Rugby Players Welfare chief executive Daniel Leo has penned a draft letter to the IOC calling for a probe into Kean’s background and the unions that supported his nomination.
“We are taking advice from our lawyers about a letter we are drafting,” Leo said. “I’m disappointed that World Rugby haven’t launched an open investigation into Kean and France for nominating him.
“If World Rugby don’t commit to governance reforms, our next letter will be to the International Olympic Committee, asking that they consider suspending rugby as an Olympic sport until they are fully compliant with IOC obligations.
“If it takes some short-term pain, i.e. being blocked from the Olympics, then so be it. But hopefully the sport can be proactive in this before that would happen.
“We have to push through now and make sure the lessons are learned and, most importantly, acted upon.”
After more than 90 years in the Olympic wilderness, rugby returned to the planet’s biggest sporting event in 2016 in the form of rugby sevens, with the Fiji men’s and Australia women’s sides claiming gold medals in Rio de Janeiro.
Rugby sevens was set to take place at the Tokyo Olympics this year, but will instead be played in 2021 after the Games were delayed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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