“The United States Olympic Committee is trying to take away my dream”, says Shipman.
Once again the registration of an athlete to Tokyo has a controversy. It is about the athlete Aliyah Shipman who has a good time participating for Haiti, who qualified for the Olympic Games and nobody said anything, but now 1 year after the postponement of these games there is a risk that the young woman will not compete for extra sporting reasons.
Since October of 2019, I have been fighting and medaling for the Haitian Taekwondo Federation in competitions such as the US Open, the Turkish Open, and the Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament. During that time, the United States Taekwondo Federation (USAT) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) never made any objections to me fighting for Haiti. In fact, I fought for Haiti at the US Open – the USAT’s own event – and was presented two without any objections.
In March of 2020, at 17 years old, I qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Taekwondo for the country of Haiti. This accomplishment was earned through months of hard, work, preparation, and dedication. Again, the US had no objection to me signing up for the Olympic Qualification event. The USAT and USOC tried to stop some of my other Haitian teammates from competing at the Olympic Qualification Tournament, but never tried to stop me. However, shortly after I qualified for the Olympics, the USOC began to harass Haiti for allowing me to compete for them. They claim that I cannot fight for Haiti because I used to fight for the USA. However, this is simply not true and has no basis under the governing World Taekwondo rules. Under The World Taekwondo rules – because I have not fought for the US since I was 16 years old I am eligible to fight for Haiti. It is a well-known fact that the US has accomplished athletes from other countries on their team, so it is ironic that they are attempting to stop me from competing for Haiti.
Since my Olympic qualification in March of 2020, the USOC has been trying to pressure the Haitian Olympic Committee to remove my name from the Olympic registration. They have never filed anything in court to stop me from going – which you would assume they would do if they had a strong legal argument – but instead have continued to apply back door pressure on the Haitian Olympic committee to remove me – and now due to concerns of retaliation from the US – Haiti has removed my registration for the 2021 Olympics.
I am deeply saddened that the USOC would go to such great lengths to remove me. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I have rightfully earned through my blood, sweat, and tears. For months, I have been training non-stop with the goal of becoming an Olympic champion, and the USOC is using strong-arm tactics to try and take my dream away from me.
Both my taekwando and legal team have been fighting around the clock to resolve this matter and add my name back to the Olympic registration since the USOC pressured the Haitian Olympic Committee to remove me. The problem is that the legal process takes time, and there isn’t much time left before I am supposed to fight in Tokyo on July 26, 2021 – not to mention the fact that because of COVID I would have to arrive in Tokyo well in advance of my competition date in order to comply with quarantine requirements. It seems that this was strategically done by the USOC in order to provide me with little to no time to legally sort this out before the deadline.
This entire situation has been a nightmare for me. During this time where I should be focused on preparing my mind and body for the Olympics, I am also being overwhelmed by bullying tactics from the US and legal battles. That being said, one of the reasons I’ve gotten this far in Taekwondo is because of my fighting spirit – and I refuse to give up. I truly wish that I did not have to go public about this situation and that things could have been resolved amicably behind closed doors, but unfortunately that’s not the reality of the situation.
Because of this, I’m asking for your help to share my story in order to right this wrong and have the United States Olympic committee release me before it is too late.