The Japanese-born comedian Neko Hiroshi, who changed to Cambodian nationality in order to represent the country at this year’s London Olympics, has been rejected by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on the grounds that he is not yet eligible. In a letter sent to Pen Vuthy, secretary-general of the Khmer Amateur Athletes Federation (KAAF), the IAAF states that Hiroshi will be allowed to represent the nation at international competitions beginning on Oct. 18th, 2012.
The IAAF, which serves as the world’s ruling body on track and field competitions, put new rules into effect this year that specify athletes with new nationalities are not allowed to represent their adopted country at international competitions until at least one year has passed. The IAAF does have the ability to waive that requirement and grant admission in situations it feels as appropriate, however representatives have said that they feel Neko Hiroshi’s case is not of an exceptional nature, and will not cancel the waiting period.
Hiroshi (real name Kuniaki Takizaki), 34, became a Cambodian citizen late in 2011. In the letter to the Olympic committee requesting that Hiroshi represent Cambodia, it was stated that the runner had been living in the country since 2009, and had never represented Japan as an athlete. It was also shown that Cambodia had no other marathon runners meeting the Olympic qualifications, and that Neko was the best participant to represent the country. The KAAF has stated that they will not try to protest the decision, and will consider sending someone other than Hiroshi.