TV cameras picked up a German cycling official yelling a racial slur during the men’s time trial Wednesday at the Tokyo Olympics, prompting an apology from the official and a reaction from at least two of the cyclists involved.
Patrick Moster, sporting director of the German cycling federation, apologized shortly after he was recorded using a racial slur while cheering on German cyclist Nikias Arndt.
At the time, Arndt was trying to catch rival riders from Algeria and Eritrea. Looking on, Moster shouted, “Get the camel drivers” several times, according to Deutsche Welle.
Journalist Florian Nass, a commentator on the race for broadcaster ARD, immediately condemned Moster’s remarks, saying, “Words fail me.”
Words did not fail Algeria’s Azzedine Lagab, one of the riders Arndt was chasing.
“Well, There is no camel race in #olympics,” Lagab said, “that’s why I came to cycling.” He added, “At least I was there in #Tokyo2020.”
After the race, Arndt said via Twitter, “I am appalled” by the sporting director’s language, calling the slur unacceptable. Arndt added that the remarks fell far short of the Olympics’ — and his own — values of tolerance, respect and fairness.
In his apology, Moster said, “In the heat of the moment and with the overall burden that we have here at the moment, my choice of words was not appropriate,” according to a translation reported by Deutsche Welle. He added, “I am extremely sorry and can only offer my sincere apologies.”
Reacting to the incident, Alfons Hörmann, president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, or DOSB, stressed that the national team stands for the same Olympic values Arndt cited. He also pledged to have a personal talk with Moster immediately to discuss the situation, according to a statement from the cycling federation, BDR.
Hörmann has been coping with his own troubles at the DOSB, which has been embroiled in a leadership crisis since an anonymous letter — widely believed to come from the confederation’s staff — accused him of overseeing a toxic workplace culture. An ethics panel recently recommended elections to choose a new president, and Hörmann, bowing to pressure, announced he would not run.