Kuniaki Takizaki, a 34-year-old Japanese comedian who recently became a Cambodian citizen, was denied his participation at the London Olympics as a representative of Cambodia at men’s marathon.
The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) said that Takizaki has not been a Cambodian citizen long enough to be accepted in an international competition.
Takizaki, who is known on TV for his cat impressions under the stage name Neko Hiroshi, would only be able to compete for his new country from October, one year after he got citizenship. The men’s marathon at the Olympics takes place on August 12.
“A request by the Cambodian athletics federation to reduce the normal waiting period for this athlete (from one year) to switch nationality from Japan to Cambodia has been refused by the IAAF council,” said a IAAF spokesman.
Cambodia’s decision to nominate Takizaki as a member of the athletics team for the Olympic Games was criticized in the country. Critics say that a person who has just changed nationality is preventing home-grown athletes from being promoted.