The GSD condemns the pressure that has been brought to bear on Gibraltarian athletes at the World Masters Athletics Championships being held in Malaga, after organisers demanded they participate as “neutrals” instead of representing Gibraltar. It has been reported that four of the five athletes have withdrawn from participation.

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said today “The pressure that has been put on our athletes is unacceptable. They have been training to participate in their sport. Instead they have been placed in an impossible situation and all deserve our support. The decision taken by a majority of athletes to withdraw is commendable and could not have been an easy one given the hours of training and focus deployed in the months leading up to this event. The GSD would like to commend these athletes for taking such a hard decision and taking a stand. This has been a brazen challenge to our athletes and they have shown great conviction. The Gibraltarian identity will be protected if we stand united in the face of such challenges.”

“The International Amateur Athletics Federation should make clear that this behaviour by the Spanish Government and organisers is unacceptable and ensure that our athletes can participate in the normal way under Gibraltar colours” said Mr Azopardi.

Shadow Sports spokesperson Edwin Reyes said: “The GSD regrets the discriminatory politically charged policies which are evidently still very much alive against Gibraltar in particular sports. The GSD is committed to supporting our national teams and players in achieving respect and equal status and treatment in whatever sport.”