Algerian judo athlete Fethi Nourine has been suspended from the Tokyo Olympics after quitting a fight by refusing to face an Israeli opponent.
Nourine withdrew from the competition to avoid a potential matchup with Israel’s Tohar Butbul. Nourine’s coach, Amar Benikhlef, said, “We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent, and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”
The International Judo Federation responded to Nourine’s decision to quit the competition by slapping him and his coach with a suspension.
The IJF issued a statement saying, “The IJF has a strict non-discrimination policy, promoting solidarity as a key principle, reinforced by the values of judo.” The statement further explained that Nourine’s conduct was “in total opposition to the philosophy of the International Judo Federation.”
Nourine has previously withdrawn from competitions to avoid facing Butbul. While Nourine claims it has to do with his support of Palestine, Nourine’s reasons might be more practical.
Butbul is widely regarded as a superior athlete to Nourine, and quitting the competition is the best way for Nourine to save his reputation.
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