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IPC Defends Ziyad Disqualification Amid Malaysian Social Media Abuse

International Paralympic Committee spokesperson Craig Spence refuted claims that national shot putter Ziyad Zolkefli was stolen from.

Cover image via Kyodo News & Stadium Astro

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The International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Chief Brand and Communications Officer has defended the decision to disqualify Malaysian shot put champion Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

The IPC spokesperson, Craig Spence, said that the decision was made in accordance to the letter of the law, reported AFP.

"People say the Ukrainian stole the gold. No, absolutely not," he said, adding, "The Ukrainian had nothing to do with it. It was the athletes that were late."

Craig reiterated the World Para Athletics statement from yesterday by saying that there was "no justifable reason" for Ziyad turning up late, thus his appeal was rejected outright.

He said that the three disqualified athletes made the case that they had not heard or understood the Call Room announcement, which he dismissed as immaterial because the other competitors made it there on time.

Image via Tehran Times

He went on to denounce the social media tirade Malaysia has launched onto the Ukrainians

Ever since the disqualification incident occurred, Craig said eventual winner Maksym Koval of Ukraine has been "getting a lot of abuse from Malaysians."

"There has been a massive outpouring of emotion of many Malaysians on social media. Very abusive," he elaborated, saying the attacks were "ridiculous, in my view."

According to Berita Harian, the Ukrainian National Paralympic Council was also targeted, with Craig saying most of the comments left by Malaysians have nothing to do with the F20 shot put event.

"You can be mad at the decision... (but) I'm sorry, rules are rules."

Malaysians have been less than cordial with their outrage, with many claiming this is not the first time Ukraine has "attacked" us

Parallels were made online between this incident and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which blew up after a missile attack while flying over the conflict-rife region of East Ukraine.

The 2014 tragedy was eventually discovered to be the work of pro-Russian separatists, and the Ukrainian government has since disowned all responsibility.

However, this fact was lost on many everyday Malaysians, who made out Ziyad's disqualification as a false allegory of a second Ukrainian attack.

Our initial report about the gold medal drama had erroneously characterised Ziyad's disqualification as a 'robbery', but read the chronology of events here:

Read more Paralympics-related stories here: