Second Judo Fighter Quits Tokyo Games Rather Than Face Israeli Competitor

Second Judo Fighter Quits Tokyo Games Rather Than Face Israeli Competitor By A Robin Rajkumar - July 27, 2021

Judo fight

Another Judo fighter has refused to fight Israel’s Tohar Butbul.

28-year-old Mohamed Abdalrasool of Sudan didn’t show up to his fight against Butbul this morning, July 26, despite having weighed in earlier on.

Fethi Nourine of Algeria also dropped out of the Olympics last week due to the fact he may have had to fight Butbul.

While it appears as if he may be following Nourine’s lead, Abdalrasool is yet to comment on why he withdrew himself from the fight.

The IJF and Sudanese Olympic officials are yet to give a statement on Abdalrasool’s withdrawal.

Nourine, however, stated he’d dropped out as a way of protesting Israel‘s treatment of people in Palestine.

The 30-year-old judoka made the announcement alongside his coach last Thursday, July 22, telling an Algerian news channel he didn’t want to ‘get his hands dirty’ and therefore felt that dropping out of the Olympics was ‘the right thing to do’.

Nourine continued, as per Mail Online:

We have worked hard to qualify for the Games, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all that.

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.

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has quit Olympics as he was told he would have to face Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul

— Tehran Times (@TehranTimes79) July 23, 2021

Meanwhile, his coach, Amar Benikhlef, said on Friday, July 23, ‘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.’

Nourine was suspended by the International Judo Federation (IJF) on Saturday, July 24, as a result, The Guardian reports. The IFJ branded Benikhlef and Nourine’s decision as ‘in total opposition to [its] philosophy’.

Nourine was originally due to face Abdalrasool in the opening round of the men’s 73kg judo, according to Mail Online. The victor of the fight then would have faced Butbul.

Due to both judokas dropping out, Butbul subsequently advanced to the round of 16 without a fight. He went on to be beaten by Canada’s Arthur Margelidon, however, who then advanced to one of the two bronze medal fights.

It’s unknown if Abdalrasool has pulled this kind of stunt before, but last week’s withdrawal was a second for Nourine; he also quit the 2019 world championships so he wouldn’t have to come up against Butbul, who ranked 7th in the world.

By A Robin Rajkumar - July 27, 2021

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