Algerian judoka withdraws from Olympics to avoid clash with Israeli

Fathi Noreen

The International Judo Federation has suspended the Algerian champion Fathi Noreen and his coach after he withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics after he was drawn against an Israeli competitor.

Noreen, 30, was due to face Sudan’s Mohamed Abdel-Rasoul on Monday in the opening qualifiers for the 73-kilogram weight category, with the winner facing the Israeli Tohar Potbol.

Noreen told Algerian media on Friday that his support for the Palestinian cause prevented him from competing against the Israeli.

He told Al-Bilad channel that “my position is consistent on the Palestinian issue and I reject normalisation, and if it costs me that absence from the Olympic Games, God will compensate us.”

But the International Judo Federation said that Noreen’s withdrawal “completely contradicts the philosophy of the International Judo Federation, which has a strict policy on discrimination and promoting solidarity as a fundamental principle, which is reinforced by the values ​​of judo.”

The International Federation indicated that after the Algerian Olympic Committee withdrew the participation cards of Noreen and his coach they had returned to their country. The federation did not clarify any further penalties they would receive.

This is the fourth time that the Algerian champion has withdrawn against a competitor from Israel – he withdrew from the third round of the World Judo Championship in 2019, which was also held in Japan to avoid facing the same player.

Noreen is one of the most famous wrestlers in Algeria and Africa, having previously won a number of championships, most notably the African Championship in the weight category of 73 kilograms in 2018.

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