The Italian town of Gemona where South African murder-accused Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius used to train has frozen a sponsorship deal with him, a report said today. Town mayor Paolo Urbani told City Press that a decision to suspend his contract was taken after the athlete was arrested for the alleged murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.
In November, the town signed a five-year sponsorship deal with him worth $19,500 per year, the newspaper said. “The contract with Oscar is suspended. We are not in a hurry to find a new ambassador,” Urbani said. Pistorius was in 2011 appointed by the town as ambassador for its sports programme. He was to train in Gemona for four months a year under the deal, which also covered his accommodation and other expenses. Gemona was his training base during 2011 and 2012.
Urbani said Pistorius was given the role of sports ambassador for the town’s sports project because of his triumph over his disability, and that he served as an inspiration.
“Oscar was the perfect ambassador for our project. Not only for the sport, but also because he is an inspiration for disabled people. It was good advertising for our town. People came here to see him. He had lots of meetings with disabled people and he went to schools to speak to students.”
The 26-year-old was last week released from custody on a one million rand ($112,408) bail. During his bail hearing he told the court that he shot his girlfriend through a bathroom door, having mistaken her for an intruder. The incident happened at his house inside an upscale high security housing complex, east of Pretoria. He said Steenkamp died in his arms as he tried to revive her. News of his arrest sent shock waves across the world as speculation swelled about his future. He is due back in court on June 4. Several sponsors, including American sportswear giant Nike and sunglasses maker Oakely, have cut ties with the champion. Pistorius has dropped a 2.2 million rand lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of assault in 2009.
His former neighbour claimed that he slammed a door at her during a party at his house. Police arrested him after the incident and he spent a night in jail, but an assault charge against him was later dropped.