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Algerian Athlete Withdraws from Olympics to Circumvent Israeli Opponent

Jul 24, 2021

An Algerian athlete, Fethi Nourine, has withdrawn from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He was to compete in the men’s under 73kg judo competition.

The Middle East Eye reports that 30-year-old Nourine was to fight Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool on July 26, and if he won, would have fought against Israel’s Tohar Butbul. He said that it was not possible for him to compete against Butbul, due to his support for Palestine.  Nourine said, “We have worked hard to qualify for the Games, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all that.” He added, “My position is consistent on the Palestinian issue, and I reject normalisation, and if it cost me that absence from the Olympic Games, God will compensate.”

The athlete’s coach, Amar Ben Yaklif, said that while they had been unlucky with the draw, they had made the correct decision in withdrawing. Nourine, announced his decision on Thursday, a day before the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.

According to the Middle East Eye, Nourine had previously withdrawn from the Judo World Championships in Tokyo, where he was also to challenge an Israeli opponent. The Middle East Eye reports that strong protests followed several Iranians having followed suit.

Separately, an Egyptian athlete, Islam El Shehaby, during the 2016 Olympics, withdrew after refusing to shake hands with an Israeli rival.

Algeria, meanwhile, does not recognise the State of Israel, and entry is refused to those holding an Israeli passport.

Umm Muhammed Umar

 

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