French ambassador for Olympics quits role over post seen as endorsing Oct. 7 attacks

Retired basketball player found to have ‘contravened her duty of neutrality’ for sharing anti-Israel image on social media days after the deadly Hamas onslaught

French former basketball vice Olympic champion Emilie Gomis takes part in a 3X3 basketball exhibition game in Nantes on June 21, 2017. (Loiv Venance/AFP)
French former basketball vice Olympic champion Emilie Gomis takes part in a 3X3 basketball exhibition game in Nantes on June 21, 2017. (Loiv Venance/AFP)

PARIS, France — A former France basketball player serving as an ambassador for the Paris 2024 Olympics has been forced to quit her role because of a controversy linked to a social media post related to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Following an urgent meeting of the Paris 2024’s board and general assembly, Emilie Gomis submitted her resignation, Paris Olympics organizers said.

Two days after the brutal assault perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were massacred amid scenes of horrific violence, and another 240 were seized as hostages, Gomis briefly published a message on her Instagram account showing maps of France from 1947, 1967 and 2023. The tricolor flag covering French territory was gradually replaced by the Israeli flag, with this question: “What would you do in this situation?”

Critics accused the former basketball player of antisemitism and supporting the Hamas onslaught, the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history, which Gomis strongly denied.

Paris organizers said in a statement late Wednesday that Gomis was given the opportunity to clarify her position during the meeting.

“The members of the Board of Directors and the General Meeting were able to note that Emilie Gomis condemned the October 7 attacks in Israel, as well as all forms of antisemitism and discrimination, which are contrary to her values,” they said. “Emilie Gomis also shared her regrets concerning her publication and apologized.”

Paris organizers, however, said that Gomis, who won a silver medal for France at the 2012 Olympics, was no longer in a position to continue her mission because her social media post “contravened her duty of neutrality.”

France’s Emilie Gomis looks to pass as she is flanked by Britain’s Stef Collins, right, and Natalie Stafford during a women’s basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, August 3, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The controversy surrounding Gomis, a retired Franco-Senegalese athlete who had played for France for over 10 years, winning a Euro title in 2009, is the latest thorny issue to face the Games, which is already beset by geopolitical strains from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

“The accusations of antisemitism I am facing are in total contradiction with the values that were instilled in me and that sport taught me,” Gomis had said in a later social media post, apologizing to “those who felt hurt.”

Her Instagram account currently has 17,000 followers.

Paris 2024 said it wanted a joyous and safe Olympics for all, but organizers are worried that the event could get caught up in politics amid continuing wars in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as France’s own internal security challenges.

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