Judokas From Algeria and Sudan Boycott Israeli Competitor at Tokyo Olympics

The Nippon Budokan, in Tokyo, Japan.

July 26, 2021

Two judokas – one from Algeria and the other from Sudan – withdrew from the Tokyo Summer Olympics to avoid facing Israeli Tohar Butbul.

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef announced their pullout on Saturday ahead of a potential second-round matchup with Butbul in the men’s 73-kilogram division, The Associated Press reported.

“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all this,” Nourine told Algerian media.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) temporarily suspended Nourine and Benikhlef, and the Algerian Olympic committee withdrew their accreditation and sent them home.

The IJF said the case had been assigned to its disciplinary commission for “further investigation, judgement, and final sanctioning beyond the Olympic Games.”

This is not the first time Nourine has acted in such a manner. In 2019, he quit the World Judo Championships right before he was scheduled to face Butbul.

On Monday, Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool did not show up for a bout with Butbul, who was listed as having “No competitor,” according to The Times of Israel.

The IJF did not immediately give a reason for Abdalrasool’s absence, and Sudanese Olympic officials did not comment.

Algeria and Israel do not have official diplomatic relations. Sudan, on the other hand, signed onto the Abraham Accords last fall, agreeing to establish formal bilateral ties with Israel.

There is no place in sports for discrimination based on nationality or religion. One has to question why Israeli athletes — representing the world’s only Jewish state — are singled out for boycotts.

As has been reinforced by the global surge of Jew-hatred in recent months, anti-Zionism is merely a contemporary form of the age-old evil of antisemitism.

The IJF said Nourine’s position 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.

Nourine and Abdalrasool must be disciplined to the full extent of the IJF’s rules. If they are not willing to compete against Israeli athletes, they should not be allowed to fight anyone, in any venue.

At the Friday’s Opening Ceremony, the International Olympic Committee commemorated for the first time with a moment of silence the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, Germany.

It is disheartening that a half-century later hatred of Israel is still on display at the Olympics, which are supposed to symbolize international peace and fraternity.