An Egyptian Olympic judoka was booed by a Rio audience when he refused to shake hands with his Israeli rival after losing a first-round match on Friday.
As per the rules of the sport, after Israel’s Ori Sasson beat Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby, Sasson approached the Egyptian to shake his hand before walking off the mat. El Shehaby then immediately turned away from Sasson’s outstretched arm, rebuffing his friendly gesture. In video footage of the incident, the crowd is heard booing loudly at El Shehaby’s unsportsmanlike conduct.
One BBC reporter commenting live during the match called El Shehaby’s action “very disappointing,” adding, “this is not what the Olympics is about.” A second BBC commentator said, “If you’re an outsider coming in, having a look, the rules of our sport dictate absolute respect for the opponent.”
El Shehaby’s snub prompted an almost immediate outcry on social media.
Ofir Gendelman, the Arab media spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to congratulate Sasson and rebuke his rival. The Olympics is “not an arena for politics and extremism,” he said.
Pro-Israel advocacy group The Israel Project (TIP) said on Facebook that the Egyptian’s actions highlight “more shocking hate at the Rio Olympics.”
“Israel’s Ori Sasson beats Egyptian Islam El Shehaby in 1st round of their judo competition. The Egyptian then refuses to shake the Israeli’s hand. The crowd boos. This is the Israel-Arab situation in miniature. For 68 years Israel has stretched out its hand in peace. But each time, they are rejected,” TIP said.
Prior to his match against Sasson, El Shehaby was attacked by fans for not bowing out of the Olympic challenge against Israel in the first place.
As reported by The Algemeiner, social media users pressured the athlete to drop out, with one angry follower writing, “You will shame Islam. If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself. We don’t want to think what will happen if you lost to an Israeli. Victory will give you nothing. How can you cooperate with a murderous nation?”
The event is also not the first time during the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil that an Arab nation has snubbed Israel.
On August 5, the Lebanese delegation to the games refused to share a bus to the opening ceremony with the Israeli team. On August 7, Saudi Arabian judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius, reportedly in order to avoid competing against Israeli contender Gili Cohen in the next round.
Watch footage of the Olympic snub below:
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal