The treacly sentiments on the brotherhood of man from the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony didn’t take long to vanish. On Friday, a judoka competitor from Algeria was suspended and sent home after withdrawing from the games by refusing to face an Israeli.
Fethi Nourine of Algeria was scheduled to face Israeli Tohar Butbul in the second round of the 73kg division if he won against Mohamed Abdalrasool of Sudan on Monday. But he decided to withdraw before those matches, citing his support for Palestine.
“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics. But the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,” Nourine said in explaining his decision.
The International Judo Federation subsequently suspended Nourine and his coach, Amar Benikhlef. The coach said on Friday, “We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”
The International Judo Federation condemned the move in a statement.
“The IJF has a strict non-discrimination policy, promoting solidarity as a key principle, reinforced by the values of judo.” The called the withdrawal “in total opposition to the philosophy of the International Judo Federation.”
The Algerian Olympic Committee has withdrawn the accreditation for both, applying sanctions, and sending them home. No details on what the sanctions entailed was revealed.
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