‘Helpless and Alone’ – Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Announces Shock Retirement and Boycotts Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 07/20/2021, 3:51 PM EDT


In a surprise Instagram statement, two-time Olympic gold medalist Oussama Mellouli announced his retirement from swimming just before the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The Tunisian legend was set to compete in his sixth Olympic Games, but a long-standing dispute with the Tunisian Swimming Federation urged him to call a premature end to his career. 

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Mellouli is 37-years-old and qualified for Tokyo Olympics in the marathon swimming event but has pulled out as a protest against the Tunisian Swimming Federation. Mellouli is the only man to have won Olympic gold medals in both the pool and open water swimming. 

What is the dispute between the Tunisian Swimming Federation and Oussama Mellouli?

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This is a three-way dispute, in fact. The Tunisian Swimming Federation, Oussama Mellouli, and Mellouli’s mother are all involved in this. Back in 2017, the federation accused Mellouli’s mother Khadija Mellouli of forgery. 

Later in 2018, they sued the swimmer over the same cause. Since then there has been tension between the parties, and an invoice issue was the root cause of the problem. The federation took notice of a few invoice bills produced by Mellouli’s mother which served as proof of the funding provided by the national federation. 

The federation intervened when they suspected Mellouli and his mother were misusing the funds. As a result, Ous Mellouli and his mother were summoned to the court two weeks before he left for the Olympics, which largely hindered his plans. 

However, the Ministry of Youth and Sport mentioned that Mellouli’s mother was the complainant in the matter and not the swimmer himself. His presence was deemed optional, and the complaint was booked against his mother. 

Mellouli responds to allegations by boycotting Tokyo Olympics 2020

Oussama Mellouli is completely overwhelmed with the whole dispute and recently announced his decision to boycott what would have been his sixth Olympic games. The veteran took to Instagram and wrote:

“After a month of ordeal, I lose all hope of reconciliation or of winning my case. So I decided to retire from international competitions and boycott the Tokyo Games.” (Quotes translated from French) 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ous Mellouli (@ousmellouli)

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Mellouli recently got on a phone call with SwimSwam where he elucidated the details about his retirement. The 37-year-old mentioned his legal battle with the Tunisian Swimming Federation and stated different reasons as to why as he is no longer being funded by them. 

Mellouli added that he is “betrayed by [his] people” due to the ongoing affairs. “I feel helpless and alone. Instead of staying focused on training and excited about competing, I am fighting for justice and to clear my name from any and all false allegation,” he expressed. 

However, if the Ministry of Youth and Sport takes a step in Oussama Mellouli’s favor, the veteran swimming would be willing to participate in the Olympics. Currently, the 25-man open water swimming event is shorthanded due to his withdrawal. 

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Arjun Athreya

2037 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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