Algerian judoka quits Tokyo Olympics instead of facing Israeli opponent
Fethi Nourine cited his political support for Palestinians as the reason for his decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo: mpi34 / MediaPunch / IPX)
Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine is leaving the Olympics after the competition draw prepared him for a possible duel against an Israeli opponent.
Nourine told Algerian television that his political support for Palestine made it impossible for him to face Tohar Butbul, the Israeli judoka.
"We worked a lot to get to the Olympics and the news was a shock, a thunder," he said.
The 30-year-old added that his decision was "final" and that he would not "get his hands dirty".
Nourine was scheduled to face Sudanese Mohamed Abdalrasool on Monday and if he had won he would have had to face Butbul, who has a first-round bye in his weight class.
Athletes from other countries, including Egypt and Iran, have also turned down the option to compete against Israeli athletes. This is not the first time for Nourine.
In 2019, he withdrew from the World Cup in Tokyo for the same reason.
"We were unlucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and so we had to give up. We made the right decision," Nourine's coach Amar Ben Yaklif told the alergic media.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics began on Friday July 23 and will last until Sunday August 8.
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