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Egyptian Judo competitor REFUSES to shake Israeli’s hand after losing Olympic match

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The show of poor sportsmanship by Muslim nations at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this week continued following a judo competition.

Spectators booed Egyptian judo fighter Islam El Shehaby following his first-round loss to Israel’s Or Sasson. El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Sasson after the Israeli athlete extended it following the defeat, CBS News reported.

Bowing or shaking hands is a traditional sign of respect in the Japanese martial art, and the referee called El Shehaby back to the mat after he brushed off Sasson’s gesture. The Egyptian gave a nod of his head, but still refused to bow. 

A spokesman for the International Judo Federation said Shehaby’s “attitude will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken.”

“This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to (fight) Israel,” spokesman Nicolas Messner said in an email, noting that though a hand shake is not obligatory, a bow is mandatory.

The judo incident is not, unfortunately, an isolated display of anti-Israeli sentiment at the games. The animosity has even led to a rebuke from the International Olympic Committee.

El Shahaby had reportedly been pressured to withdraw from the fight by by Islamist-leaning and nationalist voices in Egypt, according to CBS.

Hisham Hatab, head of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, had addressed whether the two athletes would shake hands before the match had taken place. 

“The delegation doesn’t allow mixing politics with sports. In Judo, the players can either shake hands or bow in respect to each other. It’s up to the player,” he said.

Reaction erupted on social media over the incident.

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Frieda Powers


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