A Lithuanian basketball fan goaded two African American Olympic stewards with his arm raised in what appeared to be a Nazi salute, The Daily Mail reported.
The man in question was part of a rowdy group of Lithuanian fans who stood on their feet chanting loudly throughout the first part of their country’s opening basketball game against Argentina on Sunday night.
While the police insist they are investigating the offensive incident, anti-racism charities have reacted angrily, asserting that the officers did not remove the fan from the stadium or exert enough control during the incident.
Stewards and policemen approached the group asking them to sit down so those behind could see the game. However, as two African American male stewards came towards them, one of the Lithuanian fans responded with what appears to have been a Nazi salute, according to The Daily Mail.
“I was waiting to see if they [the officers] would do anything. But they didn’t seem to move from their one spot,” said one spectator. “Eventually they went down the stairs and seemed to emerge from a level below - but the Lithuanian fan was allowed to stay inside.”
“When I saw what the fan was doing I turned to my girlfriend and asked if she also thought it was a salute. If it was a Nazi salute made to two black officials that is sickening,” he continued. “This guy needs to be singled out. The police should have done something. They need to make it abundantly clear they will not stand for this kind of thing.”
Ged Grebby, chief executive of an anti-racism campaign, said officers should have thrown the fan out immediately for using such an “extreme racist sign.”
“It is a criminal offense. We can’t just let things like this go. It is the kind of behavior that they should act upon immediately. We encourage the police to take action now,” he said.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said officers are aware of the incident and are trying to trace those involved, the paper reported.
On Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) defended a German official who was similarly accused of performing the Nazi salute during the opening ceremony of the London Games. The IOC denied allegations, claiming the hand motion was misinterpreted.