According to news reports, Cuban Men’s Team Handball player, Rafael Dacosta has defected. The 19 year old Right Back has been missing for several days and did not participate in Cuba’s first game against Canada.
Commentary: This isn’t the first time that Cuban Handball athletes have defected at international competition. Last year at the Central American and Caribbean Games 3 Handball players defected. In fact, I speculated that the Cuban team might not participate in the Pan American games due to fears of further defections. It will be interesting to see if there are any more in Rio. Additionally, it’s probably safe to say that Team Cuba will not participate in next year’s Men’s Pan American Championships if it is held in the USA. As USA laws make it very easy for Cubans to defect, they will be reluctant to let athletes step foot on USA soil.
Official Pan Am Athlete profile: www.rio2007.org.br/WWW/ENG/BIO/ATH/102138.html
Associate Press Article: http://www.nbcsports.com/sports/1782682/detail.html
Earlier THN Article on Cuban Defections: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.122