Athlete Given 10-Year Ban After Refusing To Face Israeli Opponent At Olympics

An Olympian Judo competitor was slapped with a 10-year ban after he refused to fight against an opponent of Israeli origin. 

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine, 30, had to compete against Mohamed Abdalrasool of Sudan back in July in the men’s 73kg class of the Tokyo Olympics.

If he had won, Nourine’s next opponent would have been Tohar Batbul from Israel, and that is the reason he withdrew from the games.

Nourine, is a supporter of Palestine and refused to face an Israeli in the 2019 championships in Tokyo. He told Algerian TV that he didn’t want to “get his hands dirty.”

In an interview with Sky News, Nourine said that his pro-Palestine stance is the main reason for him not to want to fight against an opponent of Israeli origin.

“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, and the news came as a shock, a thunder. […] But the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,” he said.

Amar Benikhlef, Nourine’s coach also expressed his frustration, saying:

“We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”

In a subsequent online statement, the International Judo Federation determined that Nourine and Benikhlef had “used the Olympic Games as a platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda” when talking to the press.

According to the federation’s rules, this kind of behavior signifies a “clear and serious breach of the IJF Statutes, the IJF Code of Ethics and the Olympic Charter,” and is seen as unacceptable.

The resulting decision was that “no other penalty than a severe suspension can be imposed in this case”, with the anti-Israeli competitors having now been banned “from all events and activities organized or authorized by the International Judo Federation and its unions.”

The ban will be upheld for both men until July 23, 2031, and it also means that they won’t be allowed to take part in the Olympic games until then.

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