An Olympic judo athlete who refused to fight his Israeli opponent has been kicked out of the sport for 10 years.
Fethi Nourine, an Algerian judo competitor, has been suspended from the sport for a decade after he refused to fight an Israeli opponent at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nourine spent months preparing for the prestigious event only to withdraw after he found out he would be battling against Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the second round.
As per Sky News, the thirty-year-old athlete said that the Palestinian cause was bigger than winning a medal.
“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this.”
The outlet also added that Nourine said he “didn’t want to get his hands dirty.”
Amar Benikhlef, his coach backed his decision too.
“We were not lucky with the draw,” Benikhlef said. “We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”
However, the International Judo Federation was less than impressed with Nourine’s protest.
“Judo sport is based on a strong moral code, including respect and friendship, to foster solidarity and we will not tolerate any discrimination, as it goes against the core values and principles of our sport,” read a statement following the incident.
At the time, the thirty-year-old was temporarily suspended, but now, after an investigation was conducted, he has been banned from the event for 10 years.
On September 10th, it was announced that the 2 Algerian sportsmen will not be allowed to compete in any judo-related competitions for the next 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 another statement.
“Therefore, no other penalty than a severe suspension can be imposed in this case,” they continued.
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