Algerian judoka suspended from Olympics for refusing to face Israeli

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Today Fethi Nourine, an Olympic judoka representing Algeria at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, was suspended from the Olympics for refusing to compete against Tohar Butbul of Israel, Nourine citing his support for Palestine. Nourine was competing in the under-73 kg category. He also refused to face an Israeli opponent at the 2019 World Judo Championships, which also occurred in Tokyo.

Nourine said in a statement to the media, "We worked hard to reach the Olympics. But the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this." His coach, Amar Benikhlef, was supportive of his stance in a separate statement to the media, saying, "We made the right decision." Countries that have previously refused to compete against Israel include Iran and Egypt. The Algerian Olympic Committee revoked its accreditation for the two and said they would be sent back home.

The International Judo Federation said in a statement concerning the withdrawal, "The IJF has a strict non-discrimination policy, promoting solidarity as a key principle, reinforced by the values of judo". A disciplinary commission is deciding on further sanctions.