Sudanese judoka refuses to face his Israeli opponent in ongoing Tokyo Olympics 

Earlier, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine had withdrawn from the tournament after he was drawn against an Israeli opponent citing his support for the Palestinian cause

July 27, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo : The Palestinian Information Center

Sudanese judoka Mohammed Abdulrasool became the second player in the ongoing summer Olympics in Tokyo to refuse playing against an Israeli opponent. He missed his scheduled match with his Israeli counterpart in the 73kg category on Monday, July 26.   

Though there is no official confirmation yet for the reason behind Abdulrasool’s absence from the International Judo Federation, it is speculated that he chose to drop out of the tournament rather than face Israel’s representative.

Sudan has joined a small group of Arab countries which under US pressure recently signed a normalization deal with Israel. However, there is widespread opposition to the deal among the citizens of Sudan who took to the streets to denounce their government’s move and in support of Palestinian right to self determination.    

Earlier, on Thursday, July 23, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine announced his withdrawal from the tournament following his draw against Israel’s Tohar Butbul.   

“We worked a to reach the Olympics but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all this” he was quoted as having said post his withdrawal from the games by the Middle East Monitor. Following his boycott of the Israeli team, the IJF suspended Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef saying that their act defies the “philosophy” of the organization.  

If he had not withdrawn, Nourine would have faced Abdulrasool in his first match. After his withdrawal, Abdulrasool was scheduled to play against Butbul. 

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) thanked the athletes for standing against Israeli apartheid in a statement in a statement. 

In 2019, Nourine pulled out from the Judo World Championship rather than face Butbul. 

Israeli players have faced similar boycotts in the past as well. In 2004, during the Athens Olympics Iranian world champion Arash Mirasmaeili refused to fight his Israeli opponent too. Iran was barred for four years from international competitions in April this year by the IJF after they refused to let the Judo team face Israelis.  

Most Arab countries and Iran do not recognize Israel as a state. Palestinians have led a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in order to force it to abandon its occupation and discrimination of Palestinians.