Fethi Nourine, the Algerian Judoka, along with his coach, withdrew from the Olympics games in Tokyo. Avoiding to face with Israeli Judoka in a second potential round was the reason behind the decision.
The Algerian Judoka boycotted Israeli rival in favor of the “Palestinian cause.” The International Judo Federation stated on Saturday that Algerian judoka had withdrawn from the judo tournament in Olympic games to avoid competing against an Israeli competitor.
Along with his coach, the Algerian Judoka, according to an IJF statement, “gave individual statements to media announcing their withdrawal from the competition to avoid meeting an Israeli athlete during the event.”
In a talk with local television in Algeria, Fethi Nourine talked about his controversial decision. “We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all this,” Nourine said. Amar Benikhlef, his coach, also voiced support for Nourine’s move. He said the they were not lucky with the draw and “we got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”
Both the Algerian Judoka and his coach faced temporary suspension according to the IJF after a primary investigation and verification of the evidences. The disciplinary panel at the federation has been obliged with “further investigation, judgement and final sanctioning beyond the Olympic Games.”
IJF faced backlash over its decision to suspend the Algerian Judoka. Activists and human right groups believe that the apparent anti-political approach of the federation is a covering for its sheer political tendencies. They stress on the individual freedoms, especially renowned people, to voice concern about humanitarian conditions around the world.
The Algerian Judoka’s decision is not unprecedented in the history of the games. Iran, Egypt and some other Muslim countries also boycott Israel for its practice against the Palestinian people.
Nourine, a Judoka in the -73-kilogram division, has previously withdrawn from the judo tournaments to avoid Israeli rival. The most recent occurrence was two years ago when the Algerian Judoka withdrew the World Championships in the same city, Tokyo.
Boycotting of Israeli sportsmen because of their origin is not a new occurrence in Judo or history of the Olympic games. International judo federation was expecting to showcase its development in suppressing such moves at the Tokyo 2020, but has to deal with another challenge of similar kind.
Both sides, the IJF and the Judokas, excuse themselves with a similar reasoning. Both believe discrimination must be out of a sports festival while observing the issue on different sides. The Federation says the Algerian Judoka’s statement “is 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.”
On the other side, Nourine and his defendants believe that discrimination must be condemned in all its kind. Judo, as a sport, is an offshoot of life and discrimination against human kind outside the sports field cannot be severed from that inside it. They believe Israel is an apartheid country, as stressed by various international organizations. Recognizing Israel, thus, is an affirmation of the regime’s practice.
“It’s like you accept a murderer as a guest at you home neglecting the crime he has made. Sport games must be beyond political trends, but pursuing indiscrimination must not entail discrimination,” said a sports reporter following the developments after Algerian Judoka’s withdrawal.
Iranian and Egyptian athletes have been the forerunners in boycotting Israeli athletes in international tournaments. The critics find the move an effective way to put pressure on Israel to contain the violence against Palestinians.