The UAE para-athletics team have confirmed they will stay on in London and compete in the World Para-athletics Championships as a mark of honour and tribute to one of their athletes.
Abdullah Hayayei, 36, died after being struck on the head by a discus cage, while training at London’s Newham Leisure Centre, on Tuesday.
He was due to compete in the shot put, discus and javelin F34 events during the championships, which start on Friday.
“We had a meeting with the entire delegation and decided to continue our journey here, with greater motivation in honour of, and as a tribute to, our brother Abdullah,” Majid Al Usaimi, vice-president of the UAE Disabled Sports Federation told Dubai Sports TV in Arabic.
“We are overcome by grief and are truly shocked by this news, but it is God’s will. We cannot discuss the details of the incident but what I can say is that during afternoon practice for the throwing team, at the official training venue of the competition, Abdullah was going through his usual training routines, before the metal discus cage fell on his head. The on-site medical staff tried to help him but to no avail.”
Hayayei made his Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, where he finished sixth in the javelin and seventh in the shot put.
London 2017 would have been his second World Championships after his debut at Doha 2015, where he finished fifth in the discus and eighth in the shot put.
A minute’s silence will be held in honour of Hayayei during the opening ceremony of the World Para-athletic Championships at London Stadium on Friday.
Both the UAE Paralympic Committee and Khor Fakkan Club for the Disabled, where Hayayei was a member, declined to comment when contacted by Gulf News on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement to AFP, which said: “At this early stage, it is believed the man was struck by a metal pole, which formed part of training facilities at the centre.”
Chairman of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Philip Craven, said: “We are all truly devastated by this tragic news and the passing of Abdullah. The thoughts, prayers and condolences of the whole Paralympic Movement are with Abdullah’s family, friends and teammates as well as the whole of the National Paralympic Committee of the UAE. We are all in a state of shock at this terrible tragedy.”
Ed Warner, co-chair of London 2017, added: “This is a devastating event and everyone within the London 2017 Organising Committee is shocked and saddened.
“We will be working closely with all the competitors and teams over the days ahead to offer support wherever it is needed.”
The IPC statement said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had been informed about the incident.