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Controversy Surrounds IOC Ban on Haudenosaunee Nationals’ Participation in 2028 Olympics

US President Biden is calling for a team from the “Haudenosaunee Nationals” to compete at the 2028 Olympics in LA. But the IOC is blocking it.

World-class lacrosse: The Haudenosaunee at the World Games in July 2022 in the game against Japan Photo: imago/zuma wire

In the summer of 2023 they won bronze at the World Championships, but in 2028, when their sport lacrosse becomes Olympic again for the first time in 120 years, the team will not be allowed to take part. This is the view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is against the participation of the “Haudenosaunee Nationals” in the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.

US President Joe Biden, on the other hand, advocates that the Haudenosaunee be allowed to compete independently. “They should be granted an exception so that they can have their own team in the Olympics,” Biden said in December at the Tribal Summit in Washington, the summit of the indigenous nations of North America. Haudenosaunee is the proper name of the people who were formerly called “Iroquois”. Their territory lies in the USA and Canada: from New York to Lake Ontario. “Your ancestors invented the game,” Joe Biden now says, “they perfected it over a thousand years.”

So far, lacrosse has been part of the World Games program. These are the world games of non-Olympic sports. They are held under the auspices of the IOC – according to its rules. As a result, when the 2022 World Games took place in Birmingham, Alabama, the Haudenosaunee Nationals were not invited. But Ireland gave up for them. The Irish association president Michael Kennedy wanted to use this gesture to thank the “gift” that the Haudenosaunee had given the world with this sport. So the Haudenosaunee managed with a women’s and a men’s team what the IOC is now preventing them from doing: participation in world sport.

Lacrosse is a game with a hard rubber ball and a bat, called a stick, which has a pocket, a pocket-like net. This stick is intended to push the ball into the opponent’s goal.

A lacrosse team called the Mohawk Indians competed for Canada in the 1904 Olympics

Historically, lacrosse is a game played by various North American indigenous peoples. It is not clear whether its roots date back to the 15th or even the 11th century, and there are also various theories about the origin of the word lacrosse; it probably comes from a French missionary. In any case, lacrosse is one of the few cases in which an indigenous game became a regulated sport. While sports – such as football, cricket or baseball – were usually exported to colonized countries, in this case European settlers in Canada took up lacrosse.

Long history and a lot of racism

In 1844 the “Jeux olympiques en Montreal” took place. At that time, due to Greek enthusiasm, sports and games festivals were often given the term “Olympic”. On the first day only white settlers played for themselves, on the second day Native Americans played among themselves, and on the third day both played against each other. A newspaper wrote at the time: “This game was decided in favor of the ‘red men’, who showed far greater skill in the game of lacrosse than their white brothers, although they were certainly inferior to the losers in agility and speed.”

In 1869, dentist William George Beers published the book Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada. He standardized the different forms of the game and laid down binding rules. This is how the game became a sport. Initially only for men, later also for women – and very popular in Canada.

Lacrosse also became an Olympic sport: three teams from two countries took part in St. Louis in 1904. A team of Canadian immigrants, the Winnipeg Shamrocks, won gold, the United States came second, and the bronze medal went to another Canadian team, then called the Mohawk Indians. It was a selection from the Six Nations of the Grand River. In 1908 in London, lacrosse was at the Olympics again, but then it was over.

Since the 1870s, businessmen have often sent Native Americans on profitable tours to demonstration games. Players also traveled overseas. In August 1879, a group of Mohawks performed in Hanover, Dresden and Leipzig. “Redskins in Germany” read a newspaper headline.

The Haudenosaunee Nationals’ latest campaign does not follow this racist tradition. “If we are successful, it will not just be the flag of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy that flies at the Olympics, but the flag of indigenous peoples around the world,” said Tom Perez, adviser to Joe Biden.

The Haudenosaunee had appealed to the White House, and now the United States is working with the Canadian government to bring the Haudenosaunee to the Olympics. The IOC, on the other hand, is stubborn. It is only up to the Canadian and U.S. National Olympic Committees “to decide whether to accept Haudenosaunee athletes onto their respective teams.”

But the team, which is already third in the World Cup, is not available for that. “The ultimate goal is for the Haudenosaunee to win a gold medal,” said Leo Nolan, head of the team. They already have the support of the World Lacrosse Federation and the organizing committee of the 2028 games in Los Angeles. And now Joe Biden’s too.

2023-12-16 15:21:42
#Lacrosse #Olympic #pocket #stick #respect

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