TOKYO: A second judoka has pulled out of the Olympics judo competition seemingly to avoid facing Israeli opponent Tohar Butbul.
Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool didn’t show up to face Butbul in their round, despite weighing in for the bout earlier in the men’s 73-kg division. Abdalrasool is the world’s 469th-ranked judoka in his weight class, while the accomplished Butbul is seventh.
“These are things that sometimes occur in judo, so it wasn’t that odd for me,” Butbul said. “I just had to wait, stay focused and wait for my first chance.”
Butbul later defeated Victor Stepru of the Republic of Moldova in an elimination bout, but then lost to Changrim An of South Korea in the quarterfinal and again to Canada’s Arthur Margelidon.
Last week, Abdalrasool had been slated to face Fethi Nourine of Algeria. The winner of the clash was to face Butbul before Nourine pulled out of the contest before their bout in order to avoid the possibility of meeting the Israeli. Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef had their Olympic accreditation withdrawn and were sent home.
The IJF said Nourine’s stance was “in total opposition to the philosophy of the International Judo Federation.” “The IJF has a strict non-discrimination policy, promoting solidarity as a key principle, reinforced by the values of judo,” it added.
“Judo sport is based on a strong moral code, including respect and friendship, to foster solidarity and we will not tolerate any discrimination, as it goes against the core values and principles of our sport.”
Speaking to an Algerian television station on Thursday, Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli. “We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,” he said, adding that his decision was “final.”
It is not the first time Nourine has pulled out to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, after pulling a similar move at the 2019 world championships.