Snubbing Israeli handshake: No rules broken, says Egypt judoka

Egypt’s judo athlete, who caused an uproar by refusing to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after their match, said he respects the sport and did not break any rules by ignoring his rival.

After Israeli judoka Or Sasson defeated el-Shehaby in the first round of the heavyweight judo tournament on Friday, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands.

Ignoring the referee’s call to bow, Shehaby gave a quick nod before walking off amid loud jeers from the crowd.

Shehaby explained that refusing to shake his opponent’s hand did not amount to breaking the rules.

“Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he's not my friend,” L'Esprit du Judo cited him as saying.

“I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can't ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State, especially in front of the whole world,” he said.

Prior to the tournament, the 32-year-old had reportedly been pressured by social media followers not to show up to compete with his Israeli opponent.

Although Egypt was the first Arab power to make peace with Israel in 1979, the treaty remains unpopular among many Egyptians.

Following the incident, the International Olympic Committee opened a disciplinary commission saying that “the Olympic spirit should be about building bridges, never about erecting walls.”

Meanwhile the International Judo Federation stated that judokas are not obligated to shake hands - only to bow. But according to Reuters, the federation said it would look into whether any action should be taken.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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