Sochi 2014: Lebanese skier free to compete after topless photo outrage
Sochi 2014: Jackie Chamoun asks to stop spreading racy snap as Lebanese Olympic Committee stands by athlete
The Lebanese Olympic Committee (LOC) says it will not withdraw alpine skier Jackie Chamoun from the Winter Olympics, despite footage of a racy photo-shoot surfacing on the internet.
The 22-year-old provoked outrage in the Arabic community when topless images emerged of her posing with her ski equipment.
Chamoun, who appeared in the 2010 Vancouver Games, modelled alongside other female and male professional skiers as part of a calendar shot by six-time Mexican Olympic skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe three years ago.
All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it, it will really help me focus on what is really important now: my training and my race
However, footage released in the past few days shows far more explicit content, with Chamoun insisting that it was behind-the-scenes material that had been published with her consent.
“The video and photos that you are now seeing are part of the making of, the preparation, it wasn’t supposed to go public,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“It is sad. All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it, it will really help me focus on what is really important now: my training and my race.”
The material sent shockwaves through the Lebanese media, with many branding the incident as a ‘scandal’ that harmed the Middle Eastern country’s reputation and international participation.
Chamoun, who is set to compete in the slalom and giant slalom events next week, promptly apologised for her behaviour.
“I want to apologise to all of you, I know that Lebanon is a conservative country and this is not an image that reflects our culture,” she said. “I fully understand if you want to criticise this.”
The LOC asserted that the footage was not representative of their nation’s sporting reputation and ruled after a preliminary hearing that Chamoun would be allowed to continue her Olympic pursuit.
“The Lebanese Olympic Committee will not ask to exclude Chamoun from the Sochi Games in adherence to the Olympic rules, especially since the offence did not take place during the preparations [for the Games] nor during the Games,” it said in a statement obtained by Reuters.
Chamoun has received an abundance of support from Lebanese fans on social media platforms, with Beirut personality Olga Habre inspiring a ‘bombs not boobs’ campaign.
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