August 6, 2012
LONDON — Olympic officials on Monday sharply criticized a man who was arrested for throwing a plastic bottle on the Olympic track before Sunday's men's 100-meter final, but competitors said the unpleasant incident did not affect the showcase event.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee, said there would be "zero tolerance" for anti-social behavior.
"Throwing a bottle on to the field of play is unacceptable, it's not just unacceptable at an Olympics Games but at any sporting event and anybody who does that will be removed," he said.
Officials said the incident had no impact on the race itself.
London police say they have arrested the man, who has not been identified or charged. The suspect was being held Monday morning at a police station in east London on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.
The suspect was reportedly hit by a Dutch judo champion after he threw the bottle on the track moments before the start of the 100-meter final.
Edith Bosch, the judo champion, told Dutch television reporters she acted out of disappointment and anger. She said she had seen the man acting in an unusual way before he threw the bottle.
"I had seen the man walking around earlier and said to people around me that he was a peculiar bloke," she said. "Then he threw that bottle and in my emotion I hit him on the back with the flat of my hand."
Coe said there was some "poetic justice" in the fact that the suspect happened to be sitting next to an accomplished judo star.
He cautioned, however, that he was not suggesting a vigilante response.
Police said the man had shouted abuse before hurling the bottle just before the race began.
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who won the race, said he was unaware of the incident, but U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin, who won the bronze medal, said he had been a bit distracted when the bottle was thrown.
"But when you're in those blocks and the whole stadium's quiet you can hear a pin drop," he said, adding that he did not think the race had been affected.