|Pistorius Agent Cancels Races, Says Sponsors Still Supportive|
|By BAZI KANANI (@bazikanani) and ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Feb 17, 2013, 8:37 AM|
Oscar Pistorius won't run in any of the future races that the athlete was contracted to compete in, but the Paraylmpic gold medalist's sponsors are still supportive as he faces a murder charge, his agent said today.
The decision to cancel Pistorius' scheduled appearances was made to "allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings and to help and support all those involved as they try to come to terms with this very difficult and distressing situation," Peet Van Zyl of In Site Athlete Management said in a statement.
"I have decided that following these tragic events that we have no option but to cancel all future races that Oscar Pistorius had been contracted to compete in," Van Zyl said.
Pistorius is charged with murder in the shooting death of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He has denied murdering her, saying the shooting was accidental, He is in jail awaiting a bail hearing on Tuesday.
Pistorius was slated to compete in races in Australia and Brazil, as well as at the Drake Relays in Iowa and the Manchester City Games in the U.K.
Van Zyl also said that Pistorius' sponsors and partners are supportive.
"I can confirm that at this point in time, all parties are supportive and their contractual commitments are maintained. They have said they are happy to let the legal process takes its course before making any change in their position," Van Zyl said in the statement.
However, M-Net movies, a subscription-funded South African television channel has pulled their ad campaign featuring Pistorius, tweeting, "Out of respect & sympathy to the bereaved, M-Net will be pulling its entire Oscar campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius with immediate effect."
The agent's announcement comes as a report appeared in South Africa's City Press that police found a bloody cricket bat in Pistorius' home, and are working to identify whose blood is on it.
According to the paper, law enforcement sources said they are investigating whether Pistorius might have used the bat to assault Steenkamp, or whether she used it in self-defense.
Family and friends rallied to Pistorius' defense -- saying they believe the Paralympic gold medalist's story that he shot Steenkamp by accident after he mistook her for an intruder.
"When you are a sportsman, you act even more on instinct ... it's instinct -- things happen and that's what you do," Pistorius' father Henke Pistorius, 59, told The Telegraph.
The 26-year-old athlete, known as the "Blade Runner" because of the carbon-fiber blades he runs on, was charged Friday with premeditated murder.
If convicted, Pistorius could face at least 25 years in jail.
"All of us saw at firsthand how close [Steenkamp] had become to Oscar during that time and how happy they were. They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," Pistorius' uncle Arnold Pistorius said on Saturday.
According to South African newspaper Beeld, Steenkamp was killed nearly two hours after police were called to Pistorius' home to respond to reports of an argument at the complex.
Police said they have responded to disputes at the sprinter's residence before, but did not say whether Steenkamp was involved.
The athlete's best friend said Pistorius called him after the shooting to say "there has been a terrible accident, I shot Reeva," Justin Divaris told the Sunday People.
While his family insists he is not a murderer, prosecutors disagree.
Police sources told local media that Steenkamp was shot through the bathroom door where she may have been trying to hide to save herself.
A memorial service for Steenkamp will be held in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday evening, SABC reported. Her body will be flown back for the service before being cremated, her family said.
"Her future has been cut short ... I dare say she's with the angels," said Mike Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's uncle.
The South African reality show Steenkamp competed in premiered Saturday night on SABC as planned and included a special tribute to the slain law school graduate whose modeling career was starting to take off.
"This is the only time that you see the real Reeva," executive producer and director of "Tropka Island of Treasure" Samantha Moon told "Good Morning America." "She was kind and sweet and ... so hard working. They will see the girl that we loved."
On "Tropka Island of Treasure," Steenkamp is shown laughing and smiling. The show aired some of Steenkamp's last words:
"The way that you go out, not just your journey in life, but the way that you make your exit is so important if you even made an impact in a positive way or a negative way, but just maintain integrity and maintain class and just always be true to yourself," she said.
Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp, told the Sunday Mail that they "just need to find some answers."
"We ask the lord every day to help us find a reason why this should happen to Reeva," he told the Mail.
Oscar Pistorius will remain in jail until at least his bond hearing next Tuesday.
ABC News' Colleen Curry and The Associated Press contributed to this report.