Tunisia's President Kais Saied in a press conference. GETTY IMAGES

Tunisian President Kais Saied responds to the controversial incident Friday at the Tunisian Open Masters championship in Radès —where the country's flag was covered in response to sanctions imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)— by dissolving the country's national swimming federation's board. 

WADA suspended Tunisia’s National Anti-Doping Agency (ANAD) in April for non-compliance with its code. Among the punishments, said WADA, "Tunisia’s flag will not be flown at regional, continental or world championships". 

This decision would draw condemnation from Saied, who characterised it as an 'act of aggression'. In a symbolic gesture, the president personally raised the flag and sang the national anthem at the Radès Olympic pool near Tunis.

"This cannot be tolerated," Saied firmly said while holding his country’s flag in a released video following the incident.

"Tunisia comes before the Olympic Committee and before any other committees". he adds. 

In a statement issued overnight Friday-Saturday, the Tunisian Youth and Sports Ministry announced the dissolution of the swimming federation board, as well as the dismissal the ANAD chief and a sports official in Ben Arous governorate near Tunis. Youth and Sports Minister Kamel Déguiche also ordered the ministry's inspectorate general to initiate an investigation into the incident.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani and other cabinet members, Saied emphasised Tunisia's commitment to upholding national symbols and international obligations. The dissolution of the swimming federation board, along with the dismissal of key officials, reflects Saied's determination to address the issue promptly.

WADA's sanctions, including the ban on flying Tunisia's flag at major sporting events, have cast a shadow over the country’s participation in the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Despite Tunisian authorities' efforts to amend regulations in line with WADA'srequirements, the sanctions remain in place.