A Kuwaiti junior tennis player has withdrawn from a tournament in the United Arab Emirates to avoid facing an Israeli counterpart.
According to Palestine’s official Wafa news agency, Muhammad al-Awadi withdrew from the under 14s tournament in Dubai after he was told he was going to face an Israeli player in the semifinals.
Kuwaiti media reported that al-Awadi succeeded in winning his first matches and advanced to the semifinals. However, as soon as he was told that he was going to face the Israeli player he decided to withdraw.
Osama al-Shaheen, a member of Kuwait’s parliament, tweeted: “Greetings and thanks to the Kuwaiti hero Muhammad al-Awadi for his refusal to normalise sports competition with the Zionists.”
The news follows a string of withdrawals and rejections by Muslim sportsmen from various Islamic countries who have refused to face Israeli counterparts in various sports events.
In July 2021, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after the draw set him on course for a possible showdown against an Israeli opponent.
Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli opponent.
During the same month, Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool also withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, becoming the second athlete to pull out of the international event to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.
Lebanon’s Abdullah Miniato also recently withdrew from the international mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in Sophia, Bulgaria to avoid a match against an Israeli opponent.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) has banned the Algerian judoka Fathi Noreen and his coach for 10 years after they withdrew from a match against an Israeli at the Tokyo Olympics.
International sports federations have consistently condemned athletes who refuse to participate against their Israeli counterparts, saying that these are not platforms for political propaganda.
The United Arab Emirates normalised relations with Tel Aviv in 2020. The Palestinians called this a stab in the back.