Man arrested for racist chanting in Olympic basketball

We are investigating reports of hooliganism in an Olympic sport! But, English readers will be relieved to note, it does not involve their football fans. In fact, it does not involve football at all.

My colleague Vanessa Kortekaas is hot-footing it to the basketball arena after reports that police officers were called in to deal with a group of rowdy supporters. Until we know if it’s true, I won’t say which country the alleged troublemakers are said to be from.

18.30 UPDATE: So, we can confirm that there was an incident involving hooliganism and racist chanting at the Lithuania v Nigeria men’s basketball game on Tuesday afternoon. At least one person was removed from the arena by the police after complaints from the public at both that game and at the last game the Baltic team played, on Sunday, against Argentina. The FT has been told by security officials that the man, who was later arrested on suspicion of “racially aggravated chanting”, was a Lithuanian supporter.

On the earlier occasion, we had heard reports that Argentinian players had been booed, and there was some concern that this was done by British supporters and reflected potential problems spawned by reports in the UK papers that there could be some kind of protest over the Falkland Islands, this year being the 30th anniversary of the invasion and conflict that followed.

In fact, as I reported on the blog on Monday evening, I spoke to an Argentinian reporter after the basketball who told me that the booing came from badly-behaved Lithuanian supporters.

This was backed up by photographs appearing on several news websites on Monday night, which showed a person wearing a Lithuanian sports shirt who appeared to be directing a Nazi salute at two black stewards during the Argentina game. It was reports of this incident that led the Metropolitan police to send officers to watch the game on Tuesday between the Baltic country and Nigeria.

There were reports on Twitter during that match that at least one member of a group of Lithuanians was making monkey noises, apparently aimed at the Nigerian players. This kind of behaviour is sadly not uncommon in eastern Europe and some other parts of the continent, at least as far as football crowds are concerned, is not tolerated by police in the UK.

A Scotland Yard spokesman told the FT: “Police on a proactive operation following complaints from the public kept watch on a group of supporters in the basketball arena of the Olympic park on Tuesday. A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated chanting under the Public Order act.”