Ethiopian Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie to join war

The two-time Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie has announced he is enlisting in the Ethiopian military to fight an insurgency that threatens the capital, Addis Ababa.

International alarm has grown over the escalating war in Ethiopia as Tigrayan rebels edge closer to Addis Ababa.

On Wednesday, Switzerland and Britain advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia, citing the worsening security situation. France and the US have already called on citizens to leave.

Haile cast the conflict as a battle in which the threat to Ethiopia was a threat to all of Africa.

“Ethiopia is a country that contributed a lot to Africa and the entire continent,” he said. “Yes, it is an exemplary country. Kneeling Ethiopia is indirectly kneeling the rest. This is impossible.”

In an interview in his office in the capital, where he runs more than a dozen companies engaged in hospitality, real estate, agriculture and education, Haile spoke of the role he was willing to play in the war.

“You expect me to say until death? Yes, that is the ultimate price in a war,” he said. “There is no way that I can sit here due to fear because it will come to my door. It will come to my house. We wouldn’t know when it comes. We wouldn’t know who will do what.”