Or Sasson became the second Israeli to win a medal in the Olympics this year, but his victory was muddied by the unsportsmanlike conduct of his Egyptian opponent. Sasson won a bronze medal Friday for Judo after winning a consolation round in the men’s 100 kilogram plus weight class.
After the match, his Egyptian opponent, Islam El Shehaby, was booed by the crowd after he rebuffed several attempts by Sasson to shake hands, as is customary after matches. The referee had to call Shehaby back to the ring to bow, which is required by the sport’s rules.
Algemeiner news reported that El Shehaby, the 2010 World Judo Championship bronze medalist in the over-100-kilo category, “who is known for his extreme anti-Israel views” was undecided before the match as to whether he would be willing to face an Israeli in Olympic competition. NRG news reported that the head of the Egyptian Olympic Committee assured all concerned that Shehaby would appear for his match, and the Egyption Judo Association warned Shehaby that if he did not compete, his Egyptian citizenship would be immediately revoked.
After the match, the Egyptian Olympic Committee issued a statement, criticizing the athlete’s actions.
“El-Shahaby was alerted before the match to abide by all the rules and to have sporting spirit during his match with the Israeli player,” it said, adding, “What the player did after the match, and not shaking hands with his rival, is a personal action.”
The International Judo Federation spokesman Nicolas Messner felt the snub was actually“a big improvement” in the Arab states’ attitude to Israeli athletes at the Olympics.
“In the past, it is not sure that a fight between those two athletes would have taken place. This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to be opposed to Israel,” he said.
Shehaby later announced he was quitting competitive Judo.
These Olympic games have already been the scene of several such snubs towards Israel. Last Sunday, Saudi competitor Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round judo match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius at the Games, in what Hebrew media said was a maneuver to avoid facing Israeli judoka Gili Cohen in the next round.
Last Friday evening, the Lebanese delegation refused to allow the Israeli athletes to board the bus to the opening ceremony.
Source: Israel in the News