Tokyo Olympics

Rugby to get Olympics boot?

Blitzboks (Gallo)
Blitzboks (Gallo)

Rugby faces the prospect of being dumped from the Olympic Games amid a scandal that has overshadowed the current World Rugby elections.

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Francis Kean, chairperson of the Fiji Rugby Union, was the island nation's representative nominated to run for a place on World Rugby's executive committee - a nomination that was seconded by the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

However, Kean - who was a supporter of World Rugby chairperson candidate Bill Beaumont - has since withdrawn his bid and resigned from his Fiji role after accusations of "rampant homophobia" and discrimination.

And it appears as though the allegations of the man convicted of manslaughter in 2007 could have a significant impact on whether the sport stays in the Olympics.

The Daily Mail is reporting that 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 (IOC) code of ethics.

The report in the British publication states that ex-Samoa captain and Pacific Rugby Players Welfare CEO 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. 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," Leo said.

Current World Rugby boss Beaumont is facing a stiff challenge from former Argentina captain Augustin Pichot, who is the current World Rugby vice-chairperson.

Kean was a key backer of Beaumont's bid. The FRU seconded Beaumont's nomination, and it has been widely rumoured that Beaumont intended to elevate Kean to his vice-chairperson if he remained in the saddle

World Rugby pointed that the Fiji Rugby Union - not Kean himself - had nominated Beaumont, and made a strong statement speaking out against homophobia in the sport.

After more than 90 years in the Olympic wilderness, rugby returned to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 when Fiji claimed gold in the sevens format.

The result of the new World Rugby chairperson will be made on 12 May.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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