A 29-year-old olympic fencer from New Jersey has been isolated from his team in Tokyo after sexual assault allegations surfaced.
Montclair and West Orange native Alen Hadzic -- an alternate in the men’s olympic fencing épée event -- was required to fly to Tokyo on a separate flight and has been staying at a remote hotel rather than with his 23 teammates in the Olympic Village, the New York Times reports.
Hadzic and his attorney denies the allegations, which remain unsolved.
The decision to isolate Hadzic was made as a precaution to protect the wellbeing of his teammates and other American fencers, as well as an ongoing attempt to reduce distractions, The Times says
The allegations stem from incidents between 2013 and 2015. At least two of the accusations are from fencers who knew Hadzic from Columbia University, where the athlete was suspended for the 2013-14 school year following an investigation into sexual consent, according to The Guardian.
Hadzic appealed the isolation decisions, which were kept in place after each member of the USA team’s fencing roster signed a letter stating their demands.
Many of Hadzic’s team members say he shouldn’t be allowed to compete at all.
“We are pissed off that this is even a thing we had to deal with,” one fencer told BuzzFeed News from Tokyo. “He’s been protected again and again.”
“If this had been dealt with in the way that it should have been, he should have not even had the opportunity to try to make the Olympic team,” the fencer reportedly told the outlet.
Hadzic’s Florida-based lawyer, Michael Palma, said in a statement to NYT that the team was holding his client back from “participating in the Olympic experience that he has rightfully earned.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for USA Fencing told Buzzfeed that it does not take unproven allegations into consideration when seeking Olympic qualifiers.
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