Germany may demand democracy pledges after rower quit Olympics
By Madeline Chambers
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany may force sports stars to make a commitment to democracy, a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, days after a national rower quit the Olympic village following reports that her boyfriend was a neo-Nazi.
The case of Nadja Drygalla, whose partner has been a member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), has ignited a debate in Germany about extremism in sport, although the rower denies holding far-right views herself.
Last year's discovery that a neo-Nazi cell was responsible for the seemingly unrelated murders of nine Turkish and Greek immigrants has triggered soul-searching in Germany about institutionalized tolerance of right-wing extremism.
As part of a regular review of guidelines on sport funding, the Interior Ministry is considering insisting that top clubs and associations make a formal commitment to democratic values.
"This is a question that arose at the end of last year ... and we are considering it in our review," a spokesman said. "It is not in any way related to the Drygalla case. Right-wing extremism in German sport has been a concern for a long time."
Campaign groups have long warned that neo-Nazis try to recruit supporters through youth and sports clubs, especially in parts of former Communist eastern Germany where unemployment levels are high.
Drygalla, whose rowing eight had already been eliminated from the competition, left the Olympic village on Friday after talks with the German Olympic Committee about reports that her boyfriend had links to a neo-Nazi group.
The boyfriend, Michael Fischer, stood for the NPD in an election in the northeastern city of Rostock last year. Continued...