A day before the opening ceremony, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine forfeited his place in the Tokyo Olympics rather than compete against Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul, Israeli media reported on Thursday.
According to reports, Nourine made his decision after he was drawn to face Butbul in the second round, if they both advanced past the first round.
Algerian media quoted Nourine as saying: ‘We won’t recognize the Israeli flag and we won’t stain our hands with it.” His coach Amar Ben Yaklif said: “We were unlucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that is why we had to withdraw. We made the right decision.”
This is the second time that Nourine quit a high-level competition rather than face Butbul, the first being at the 2019 Judo World Championships in Japan.
In 2016, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby quit the Rio Olympics after refusing to shake the hand of his Israeli rival Or Sasson.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) August 12, 2016
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)