Algerian judoka banned for 10 years for refusing to fight Israeli opponent

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Fethi Nourine/ Instagram

The International Judo Federation (IJF) banned Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef for 10 years following Nourine’s refusal to face an Israeli fighter during the Tokyo Olympics.

Nourine and Benikhlef had told local media that they pulled out of the competition to demonstrate their support for Palestinians.

Benikhlef is an IJF Hall of Famer and silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

The IJF issued a statement saying no other penalty than a severe suspension could have been delivered in this case.

“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,” the statement said.

Another judoka, Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool, also pulled out of the tournament before fighting Butbul claiming he had an injury. However, his version of events is disputed by the Israeli team.

The duo can appeal their bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The IJF has been embroiled in battles to stamp out discrimination and support Israel’s right to compete in the sport in recent times.

In April, the IJF suspended Iran for four years because the nation refused to allow its fighters to face Israelis.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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