A German rower is on her way home from the Summer Games, agreeing to leave the Olympics earlier than expected after reports of her ties to a Neo-Nazi group have surfaced.
Nadja Drygalla, a member of the eight women in Germany’s rowing crew that had already been knocked out of the Games, had planned to stay in the Olympic village for a bit longer. But according to the Huffington Post, she’s had a “detailed and intense conversation to avoid creating a burden” on her team with German team head Michael Vesper.
The 23-year-old rower is in a relationship with a member of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party (NDP). The site Spiegel Online International says that she is suspected of sympathizing with the right-wing extremist ideology of the NPD, which authorities describe as racist, revisionist, and hostile to the German constitution. Although technically legal, and although the NDP does have representatives in state and municipal assemblies, their outlook has been classified as “Neo-Nazi” by many.
According to a press release issued after the decision was made, Drygalla “credibly confirmed that she subscribes to the values of the Olympic Charter and the principles laid down in the preamble of the [German Olympic Sports Confederation] bylaws.” It also states that the managers of the German Olympic team knew nothing about Drygalla’s associations until Thursday and that Vesper and German Rowing Federation sports director Mario Woldt met with her for over 90 minutes before the decision was made that she would go home.
At a Friday morning press conference, Vesper insisted that Drygalla should not be viewed as guilty by association.
“In Germany, thank God, there is the principle that each is responsible for one’s own deeds and not for one’s surroundings,” he says, adding that it would be wrong “to define another person based on their personal surroundings.”
“If we had had even the slightest indication that someone in our squad was xenophobic, this person wouldn’t have been on the Olympic squad,” Vesper adds.