Athlete Given 10-Year Ban After Refusing To Face Israeli Opponent At Olympics
An Olympic athlete has been given a 10-year ban after reportedly refusing to face an Israeli opponent.
Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine, 30, had been due to face Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool on July 26, where they would have competed in the first round of the men’s 73kg class of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Had he been victorious, the next round would have seen Nourine go on to face Israel’s Tohar Butbul, a prospect that prompted him to pull out of the competition altogether.
Nourine, who is pro-Palestine and previously withdrew from the 2019 world championships in Tokyo rather than face an Israeli competitor, told Algerian TV that he did not want to ‘get his hands dirty’, emphasising his ‘decision was final’.
As per Sky News, Nourine explained that his support for Palestine made it impossible for him to face an Israeli opponent, stating:
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.
Nourine’s coach Amar Benikhlef has shown support for the withdrawal, remarking that they had not been ‘lucky with the draw’:
We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.
In a statement shared on its website following an investigation into the matter, the International Judo Federation (IJF) determined that Nourine and Benikhlef had ‘used the Olympic Games as a platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda’ when making their statements to the media.
Under IJF legislation, this sort of behaviour constitutes a ‘clear and serious breach of the IJF Statutes, the IJF Code of Ethics and the Olympic Charter’, and is deemed unacceptable.
With this in mind, it was decided that ‘no other penalty than a severe suspension can be imposed in this case’, with both Nourine and Benikhlef having now been banned ‘from all events and activities organised or authorised by the International Judo Federation and its unions’.
The ban, which has now been implemented with ‘immediate effect’, will remain in place for both men up until July 23, 2031, meaning they will not be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games for at least the next decade.
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CreditsInternational Judo Federation (IJF) and 1 other
International Judo Federation (IJF)