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CRIME

Scandals besmirch end to world athletics championships

The IAAF Athletics World Championships concluded with two scandals over the weekend when six athletes were arrested for attacking nightclub doormen and a ZDF sports journalist insulted Berlin’s scruffy Marzahn district.

Scandals besmirch end to world athletics championships
US hurdle jumper Bershawn Jackson post-race in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Six track and field stars – among them 26-year-old US bronze medallist Bershawn Jackson – were arrested early on Sunday morning in Berlin after attacking three bouncers.

The 400-metre hurdle medallist was out with five other IAAF athletes in a group of 20 post-competition revellers when they tried to enter the “Havanna” club in Berlin’s Schöneberg district around 4 am, daily Berliner Kurier reported on Monday.

Bouncers told the group, which also included athletes from Cuba and the Bahamas, to wait in the foyer because the club was too full to accept new patrons. The athletes reacted angrily, and began throwing bottles when they were kicked out, the paper said.

Injuries to three doormen included a cranial contusion, a cervical spine injury and a split lip.

Jackson and two athletes from the Bahamas spent the night in jail and were released on Monday. They will be allowed to leave the country, but police are investigating them for disturbing the peace and assault. They face a suspended sentence.

The other athletes were Cuban bronze medallist and triple jumper Alexis Copello (24), Cuban decathlon silver medallist Leonel Suarez (21), triple jumper Leevan Sands (28) from the Bahamas, his hurdle jumper cousin Shamar Sands (24), and Bahamian high jumper Donald Thomas (25).

Meanwhile politicians were enraged on Saturday after disparaging comments about a part of eastern Berlin by public broadcaster sport reporter Wolf-Dieter Poschmann during the women’s’ hammer throw finals.

“If someone grew up in Marzahn and lived through it undamaged, then they are capable of anything,” Poschmann said of German athlete Betty Heidler, who grew up in the notoriously gritty working-class district.

Petra Pau, a high-ranking MP for The Left party from Marzahn-Hellersdorf roots told news agency DPA that the district had produced “many talented artists, athletes and Paralympics victors.”

“What we don’t need is arrogant disdain from the West,” she said of the formerly East Berlin district.

Marzahn Mayor Barbara Pohle told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that she invited Poschmann to come visit the district.

“I truly regret that journalists for public broadcasters, who themselves have probably never set foot in the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, discredit the residents in this way,” Pohle told the paper.

The two scandals come in addition to Berlin discus thrower’s Robert Harting’s defamatory comments about athletes who were victims of systemic doping under the communist regime in former East Germany. There was also controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semanya’s near refusal to accept her 800-metre race gold medal after being ordered to take a gender test.

But there was at least one happy story at the end of the championships, after Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt was presented with a giant piece of the Berlin Wall on Sunday.

Bolt, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m and shattered his own world records in the individual sprints, was presented with a part of the famous Cold War symbol by Berlin city mayor Klaus Wowereit.

“I’ll be delighted to have this gift at my house. I will never forget Berlin,” said the 23-year-old Bolt. “I didn’t realise (the piece of the Wall) was going to be so big,” added the triple Olympic champion.

Bolt’s piece of the Wall measures 4.3 square metres and weighs 2.7 tonnes. It will be delivered to Jamaica by ship in the next three weeks, said Wowereit.

“Usain Bolt himself has brought walls down with his world records. We are presenting him with a piece of the Wall to thank him for his fantastic performances,” said the mayor.

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ANTI-SEMITISM

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

German police staged a major deployment at a synagogue in the western city of Essen on Friday after several bullet holes were found in the adjacent former rabbi's residence.

Police deployed at German synagogue after bullet holes found

Police said “four shots were fired from a loaded weapon” into the exterior of the home next to the city’s Old Synagogue but that no one was injured.

Officers were inspecting the site with sniffer dogs for any explosives.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he was “shocked by this latest attack on Jewish life in Germany”.

“Anti-Semitism must have no place. It is our duty to protect Jewish life,” he tweeted.

Media reports said the shots were fired overnight and reported on Friday morning. They targeted a glass door at the entryway of the residence and two bullets pierced the glass.

State interior minister Herbert Reul told local media that the alleged assailant, a man, had been captured on a security camera but was still at large.

The incident came three years after a gunman killed two people in the eastern city of Halle after failing to storm a synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Before the attack, he had posted a racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic manifesto online.

Germany in May reported a new record in the number of politically motivated crimes last year, including a nearly 29-percent jump in anti-Semitic crimes to 3,027.

Seven decades after the Holocaust in which the Nazi regime slaughtered six million Jews, the vast majority of the offences — 2,552 — were attributed to the far-right scene.

Essen’s Old Synagogue was built in the early 20th century but its interior was largely destroyed by the Nazis in the November 1938 pogrom.

It underwent a thorough restoration and reopened as an expanded Jewish Culture House for interfaith dialogue in 2010.

READ ALSO: ‘We will fight for our Germany’: Holocaust survivor issues warning to far right

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