Dr. Ismail Selim, director of CRCICA, was invited by the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) to a live webinar titled “United by Sports Arbitration: A Reflection on the Tokyo Olympic 2020”. He shared his experience as an arbitrator during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games along with Dr. Annabelle Benett. They were both appointed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), of which CRCICA is the sole alternative hearing center in Africa.
CAS arbitral tribunals only had jurisdiction from the 10 days preceding the opening of the ceremony until the end of the Olympic Games. Thus, jurisdictional issues arose often. Both arbitrators decided in a case that the tribunal has still jurisdiction when the case file is communicated to the first applicant 11 days before the opening ceremony, provided that the material documents are communicated within 10 days.
Language issues were also challenging. Dr. Ismail Selim was appointed as sole arbitrator in the only French-speaking case out of 15 cases: he had to deal with submissions and pleas conducted in both French and English.
Both arbitrators mentioned the field of play doctrine, according to which an arbitral tribunal cannot overturn referee decisions, mainly because he lacks technical expertise. For this reason, in a disciplinary case involving a French boxer, Dr. Selim rejected the applicant’s claims. The arbitrator still added a paragraph inviting the relevant Olympic authorities to scrutinize the referee’s decision, given that he did not exclude the presence of significant mistakes.
Dr. Ismail Selim gave a tribute to the CAS for appointing him as an arbitrator and to the Japanese authorities for the implemented measures aiming to prevent COVID-19 infections. We are also grateful to the Asian International Arbitration Centre for hosting this fruitful webinar.