Feature

Germany: Judging an athlete by her boyfriend

A German rower left the Olympics under a cloud after the German media reported that her boyfriend was the leader of a neo-Nazi group.

Matthias WyssuwaFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

One of Germany’s rowers has left the Olympics under a cloud—and not because her team lost, said Matthias Wyssuwa. Nadja Drygalla, part of the women’s eight team eliminated in a preliminary heat, went home early after German media reported that her boyfriend was the leader of a neo-Nazi group in Rostock. Michael Vesper, head of Germany’s Olympic association, sent Drygalla packing, claiming she had agreed to leave “so as not to be a burden for the team.” As soon as the news broke, sports officials and politicians began pointing fingers, trying to find out “who knew exactly what, and when, and who should have informed whom” to keep such a person off the Olympic squad. Everyone seems to take it for granted that Drygalla has become unclean, unworthy of representing Germany, because of her partner’s views. But that’s unfair. Drygalla assured Vesper that she adheres to German laws banning glorification of the Nazis and believes in Olympic values. We may doubt that: Is it really possible to love someone whose views you find repugnant? Is it possible to share someone’s life for years “without developing the least bit of sympathy for his convictions?” Probably not. But as long as there’s no proof that Drygalla herself is a neo-Nazi, “society ought to put up with her choice in partner.”

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