Algerian Judo Champion Suspended for Refusing to Meet Israeli Opponent at Olympics

The International Judo Federation suspended on Saturday Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef for withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics before his event started, after the draw set him on course for a match-up against an Israeli opponent.

The IJF launched an investigation into the case, leading to a temporary suspension of Nourine and Benikhlef.

Nourine was set to face Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool on Monday for his first bout, and would have taken on Israeli Tohar Butbul in the next round.

Speaking to an Algerian television station late Thursday, Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli.

“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,” he said, adding that his decision was “final”.

It is not the first time that Nourine has withdrawn from competition to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, after he pulled out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo.

Also, this is not the first time that an Arab or a Muslim athlete pulls out of an international competition to avoid meeting an Israeli opponent, for such participations are seen as acts of political normalization with Israel, an occupying power that is growingly recognized as an apartheid state.

Source: Palestine Chronicle

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