Sat Sep 23 16:37:54 CAT 2017

Paralympic authorities probe Algeria's no-show versus Israel

By AFP | 2016-09-11 17:48:13.0

Oliver Horauf, Michael Feistle and Reno Tiede of Germany attempt to block the ball against the while playing against the Canadian national team (front) in during the Goalball - Men's Preliminary - Group A , Match 17 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 10 September 2016.  EPA

Paralympic authorities said Sunday they are skeptical about Algeria’s claim that its women’s goalball team missed a game against Israel in Rio purely due to travel delays.

The Algerians did not show up for opening matches against the US team on Friday or Israel on Saturday, leading to accusations in the Israeli media of a boycott by the mostly Muslim country.

Algeria’s team says that it simply could not get to Rio on time because of travel snarl-ups. However, following an incident at the earlier Olympic Games in Rio where an Egyptian judoka broke protocol by refusing to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, the story was not immediately accepted.

Political protests are banned at the Olympics and Paralympics.

Algeria’s Paralympic officials explained that “the team has suffered a series of flights delays and extreme bad luck in attending the Rio 2016 Paralympics,” the International Paralympic Committee said in a statement.

“The IPC will continue to investigate why more than 4,300 other athletes managed to arrive on time for these Games, yet the five players and two coaches that make up the Algerian women’s goalball team have suffered such trouble,” the statement said.

“If we find during the course of the investigation conclusive evidence that this is anything but bad luck with travel then the IPC may be in a position to take relevant action.” The US and Israeli teams were automatically awarded three points and 10-0 victories because of the canceled matches.

The Algerian women’s team is next due to play on Monday against Brazil.  In goalball, blind or partially blind players wear eye shades to make conditions equal, then try to score goals with a ball containing bells to help the players.