Egyptian Judoka Refuses To Shake Hands With An Israeli And Is Sent Home For His Attitude

There is such a thing as the Olympic Spirit, the Olympic games website describes it as a spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play.

An Egyptian judoka has been sent home for not displaying this spirit after a competition.

Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby lost a fight to Israeli Or Sasson on Friday. After Sasson defeated El Shehaby and the pair retook their places in front of the referee, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands.

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The referee called him back to bow but El Shehaby only gave a quick nod before walking off. the crowd immediately erupted in loud boos. El Shehaby insisted that he did not want to shake hands with an Israeli, nor was he obliged to do so under judo rules;

“Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he’s not my friend…I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State, especially in front of the whole world”

Be that as it may, the IOC said his behavior went against the rules and spirit of the Olympic Games and the rules of fair play. Following the blowout which resulted in the Egyptian Judoka being sent home by his own team, the IOC said in a statement that “The President of the National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games”.

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They continued;

“The Disciplinary Commission (DC) considered that his behavior at the end of the competition was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values,

As well as a severe reprimand, the DC has asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games.”

It was not the first time that an athlete from an Arab nation would refuse to compete with Israeli athletes in Olympics or other international competitions. In fact, it was reported that El Shehaby had been pressured by fans on social media not to show up for the match with his Israeli opponent, who went on to win bronze in the +100kg category because it would shame Islam.

Iranian world champion Arash Mirasmaeili earned praise in his home country when he refused to fight Israeli judoka Ehud Vaks at the 2004 Athens Olympics.