BERLIN Aug 7 Germany may force sports stars to
make a commitment to democracy, a ministry spokesman said on
Tuesday, days after a national rower quit the Olympic village
following reports that her boyfriend was a neo-Nazi.
The case of Nadja Drygalla, whose partner has been a member
of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), has ignited a
debate in Germany about extremism in sport, although the rower
denies holding far-right views herself.
Last year's discovery that a neo-Nazi cell was responsible
for the seemingly unrelated murders of nine Turkish and Greek
immigrants has triggered soul-searching in Germany about
institutionalised tolerance of right-wing extremism.
As part of a regular review of guidelines on sport funding,
the Interior Ministry is considering insisting that top clubs
and associations make a formal commitment to democratic values.
"This is a question that arose at the end of last year ...
and we are considering it in our review," a spokesman said. "It
is not in any way related to the Drygalla case. Right-wing
extremism in German sport has been a concern for a long time."
Campaign groups have long warned that neo-Nazis try to
recruit supporters through youth and sports clubs, especially in
parts of former Communist eastern Germany where unemployment
levels are high.
Drygalla, whose rowing eight had already been eliminated
from the competition, left the Olympic village on Friday after
talks with the German Olympic Committee about reports that her
boyfriend had links to a neo-Nazi group.
The boyfriend, Michael Fischer, stood for the NPD in an
election in the northeastern city of Rostock last year.
Drygalla told the news agency DPA that Fischer had left the
NPD in May and quit the far-right scene. She said she had told
him she did not share his views, and the issue had strained
The NPD has representatives in two state assemblies and has
defied attempts to ban it.
It is far more extreme than other populist, anti-immigration
parties in Britain, France and the Netherlands. The national
intelligence agency monitors its members and describes it as
racist, anti-Semitic, revisionist and inspired by Hitler's Nazi
Groups with explicit neo-Nazi ideology are banned in
Some media have described the Drygalla case as a witch hunt
and several politicians, including Defence Minister Thomas de
Maiziere, have defended her, saying it is a private matter who a
sportsperson's friends are.
However, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has been
more circumspect, saying merely that the matter needed to be
"Extremist views have no place in sport. Sportspeople are
role models," he told the mass-circulation daily Bild.
(Reporting By Madeline Chambers)