A Sudanese judoka has withdrawn from the Tokyo 2020 games, ostensibly to evade competing against an Israeli rival. Three days earlier, an Algerian Judoka took the same route and faced a potential suspension by the International Judo Federation.
In male 73-kg class list, the Israeli Judoka had “No competitor” in a battle that was expected to be against Mohamed Abdalrasool from Sudan. While he showed up for the face-off hours earlier, the Sudanese Judoka didn’t step up for the match at the due time.
The International Judo Federation made no immediate explanation for absence of Sudanese Judoka, refraining to reply to demands for clarification. Observers believe that the backlash against IJF’s decision to impose temporary suspension on Algerian Judoka is the reason behind the silence.
The Israeli Judoka in 73-kg division responded to a question about the Sudanese Judoka saying that was no surprise. “These are things that sometimes occur in judo, so it wasn’t that odd for me,” Butbul said.
Sudan agreed on a normalization process with Israel based on the Abraham Accords early in 2021. The country sought to establish relations with Tel Aviv relying on the agreement. Sudan was, nevertheless dissatisfied with the result of the normalization accord, as an official local report noted early in July.
The agreement also faced public backlash inside Sudan. Wide protests across the country led the officials to make apologies and promise amendments to the agreement.
Mohamed Abdalrasool’s move was a further indication of negative view on the normalization agreement inside Sudan. The local officials inside Sudan avoided providing the reporters with e feedback on the issue.
Saudi Arabia, another country with covert ties with Israel to concerns about public backlash, deal with similar issues in Tokyo. Saudi officials are assessing a potential face-off with Israeli rivals for the first time.
Hesitating Saudi Arabia
The Sudanese Judoka is the second Judoka from Islamic countries to face a challenge of confrontation with Israeli rivals. Nevertheless, he is not the last one in Tokyo 2020 with such a condition.
In three days, on July 30, women’s 78-kg division in Judo will see a competition between Tahani Alqahtani of Saudi Arabia and an Israeli rival.
It is still unclear whether the Saudi Judoka keep up with the string of boycotts against Israeli Judokas in Tokyo. There are differing opinions concerning Saudi Arabian fighter’s upcoming match with Raz Hershko, the Israeli rival.
Saudi official, according to the reports, are gearing up to issue the permission for the confrontation for the first time. Concerns about the public backlash inside the country, however, postponed the announcement to later days close to the match.
The comments on social media truly indicates sort of a fire under the ashes in Saudi society regarding the issue. Most commenter lambasted a potential decision to acknowledge Israeli governance by the encounter.
Another group advised the face-off to be held in order to defeat the “devil”, as they refer to Israel. “May God grant you great success, let’s go, beat the devil,” a Saudi said on social media. “She can’t back down, especially not against the Israeli,” wrote another Saudi person.
The political policy-makers, however, are seeking ways to control the societal consequences of such a decision. Saudi Arabia has no official relationship with Israel, but reports confirmed the covert ties between the two countries. With the Sudanese Judoka boycotting the Israeli rival, the decision-making process may be even tougher for Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has been once the forerunner of such moves in boycotting Israel. Political interests, along with military and economic cooperation, however, impacted the ideological and moral codes of Saudi Arabia.