On September 1, 2017,Georgian news agency Ipress.ge published an article under the headline "Nino Odzelashvili was suspended by the referees from participating in the Judo World Championship for displaying a cross hanging around her neck." Based on the information provided by Ipress.ge, an identical story entitled "Georgian judoka was suspended by referee's decision from the World Championship due to her donning a crucifix" was published by Imedinews.ge, news website for Imedi TV.
According to the information released by Ipress.ge, Nino Odzelashvili, member of the Georgian national team, was declared beaten by the arbiters in the Judo World Championship in Budapest, only because of her wearing a cross while wrestling.
The materials distributed by Ipress.ge and Imedinews.ge are manipulative, because Nino Odzelashvili got disqualified not for carrying a cross specifically, but because of violation of rules of the International Federation of Judo, according to which the sportsman is prohibited from wearing any kind of jewelry while competing. In the reports of Ipress.ge and Imedinews.ge, such an explanation is not given in the title so it becomes misleading to the reader and promotes the developpement of incorrect ideas.
The information was spread throughout the social media, which led to a negative reaction from one part of the users, while another part expressed dissatisfaction with the propagation of misleading content.
Myth Detector contacted Nino Odzelashvili, who explained that the incident had nothing to do with the cross as a symbol and Christianity as a religion. According to Nino, this is a rule that every athlete in the world who wants to compete obeys.
Nino Odzelashvili's comment given on telephone:
A similar explanation was given by Nicholas Mesner, representative of the Media Group of the International Federation of Judo. As stated by him, the sportsman is constrained from contention with any kind of necklace, because it represents a threat to himself and his opponent. The only motive for disqualification is this rationale and it is in no way related to religion or a decision taken against Georgia.
In keeping with themedia director of the European Judo Union Soren Starke, European Judo Union does not take responsibility for the World Championship because it is governed by the International Judo Federation, however he insisted that the incident has no connection with religious discrimination, as it is prohibited to wear necklace or any other kind jewelry during wrestling.
Prepared by Nika Gurin
Myth Detector Laboratory