European Championships: Angela Merkel draws athletes′ ire for no-show | News | DW | 12.08.2018
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European Championships: Angela Merkel draws athletes' ire for no-show

Several athletes have criticized Angela Merkel's absence from the athletics championships in Berlin. They accuse the German chancellor, who was at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, of giving special treatment to soccer.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's nonattendance at the European Championships in Berlin has upset several German medal winners.

Shot-putter Christina Schwanitz, who won silver at the event, criticized the chancellor for not turning up for the championships despite their being held at her doorstep.

"I wondered: Why wasn't Mrs. Merkel there," Schwanitz said during a sports show on Saturday on the German broadcaster ZDF.

"She can fly to Rio de Janeiro and miss work for several days. It's all about football," the former world champion said, referring to Merkel's visit to the Brazilian city to cheer for the German soccer team in the final match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

"I think that's a shame," Schwanitz said. "It just shows how much is one appreciated."

European Decathlon champion Arthur Abele also complained about Merkel's absence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel celebrates after Mats Hummels scored a goal in the FIFA World Cup 2014 group G preliminary round match between Germany and Portugal .

Merkel traveled to Brazil to cheer for the German soccer team in 2014 FIFA World Cup.

'Ignores major events'

Discus thrower Nadine Müller, who won silver on Saturday, said it was "unfortunate that supporting athletics wasn't among the German chancellor's priorities."

"I think her presence in the stadium would have given us an extra push," she said.

The chairwoman of the sports committee of the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, also chimed in.

"I still regret how the German chancellor ignores major events with the exception of soccer. Especially when such a great event as the European Championships is being held in Berlin," Dagmar Freitag said.

The president of the German Athletics Association defended Merkel, saying she had other things to do in addition to attending sporting events.

He argued that, even without Merkel, "politics" was well represented at the championships, with several senior German politicians, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, attending.

ap/rc (SID, dpa)

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