An Olympic judoka who refused to fight an Israeli opponent has been kicked out of the sport for 10 years

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An Olympic judoka who refused to fight an Israeli opponent has been kicked out of the sport for 10 years
Fethi Nourine. YouTube
  • An Algerian judoka has been suspended for 10 years for refusing to face an Israeli opponent.
  • Fethi Nourine withdrew from Tokyo Olympics, saying he didn't want to "get his hands dirty."
  • The IJF said Nourine acted with "malicious intent" and used the games to promote "political and religious propaganda."

The Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has been suspended for 10 years by the International Judo Federation (IJF) for withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics because he was set to face an Israeli opponent.

The 30-year-old was due to face Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool for the first round in the men's 73kg class on July 26, where victory would have set him up to face Israel's Tohar Butbul in the next round.

After seeing the draw, however, Nourine withdrew without facing Abdalrasool.

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"We worked a lot to reach the Olympics," Nourine said at the time. "But the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this."

He also said that he was not willing to "get his hands dirty."

Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef, who backed his decision to withdraw, were both temporarily suspended by the IJF because their stance opposed its "strict non-discrimination policy."

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On September 10, the IJF announced that following an investigation, both men would be suspended from the sport for a decade.

"It is evident that the two Algerian judoka, with malicious intent, have used the Olympic Games as a platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda, which is a clear and serious breach of the IJF Statutes, the IJF Code of Ethics and the Olympic Charter," said the organization in a statement.

"Therefore, no other penalty than a severe suspension can be imposed in this case."

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Nourine and Benikhlef will be able to appeal the decision through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Nourine's withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics wasn't the first time he had refused to face an Israeli opponent. He also pulled out of the 2019 world championships, which coincidentally were also in Tokyo, for the same reason.

Sportspeople from the Muslim world, including Iran and Egypt, have frequently boycotted athletes from Israel to protest the decades-old conflict between the Jewish state, the Palestinians, and their supporters around the Middle East.

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