The National Olympic Committee of Zambia has jumped to the defence of Tilka Paljk, one of the two swimmers competing as part of Team Zambia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Some Zambia took to social media attacking Paljk after she was announced as one of the two flag carriers for the opening ceremony.
They questioned her nationality stating that she is not Zambian enough to represent the country at the global sporting showpiece.
But National Olympics of Zambia President Alfred Foloko said the attacks on Paljk her unfortunate.
“Our beloved sports fans, the comments I have seen all over social media over the past few days makes a sad reading. Only a week ago we were burying our founding father, Dr. Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda, who was clear about building One United Nation,” Foloko said.
“These comments border on division and segregation. Something Zambia has stood against for the past 50 years. It is very saddening,” he said.
“For us as the National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ), we have weathered such bias and will continue to focus on the facts whilst upholding the law. The principle of gender equality represented at the games under the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is one of the key agenda recommendations in the strategic plan.”
“Tilka Paljk is one of the two swimmers competing as part of Team Zambia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She like the other 29 athletes is representing Mother Zambia in all aspects. NOCZ has a mandate to ensure that two athletes of different gender carry the flag of the country they are representing at the time of the Opening Ceremony at all Multi-sport competitions such as the Olympic Games and in this particular the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games being held right now.”
Foloko said Paljk is a bonafide Zambian and deserves respect and admiration for her efforts to carry the flag and represent her country.
“We disregard such ignorant hurtful comments from our fans who may not have an idea of what constitutes a citizen. We encourage Tilka to remain focused fully believing in herself and ensuring to perform at her very best while dressed in Zambian colours,” he said.