Tokyo: Algerian athlete Fethi Nourine and his coach have withdrawn from the judo competition at the Tokyo Olympics to avoid facing an Israeli athlete. The decision was made in support of the ‘Palestinian cause’.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) confirmed on Saturday an released statement that Fethi Nourine and his coach have withdrawn from the judo competition
“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all this,” the 30-year-old Nourine told Algerian television. His statements were backed by Benikhlef, who admitted they had “not been lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”
The federation said both were temporarily suspended after an investigative commission “confirmed all the facts.” It added that the case was assigned to its disciplinary commission for “further investigation, judgement and final sanctioning beyond the Olympic Games.”
The Algerian Olympic Committee withdrew accreditation for both Nourine and Benikhlef and “plans to send them home, applying sanctions accordingly,” the IJF statement said.
It must be recalled that Nourine has also reviously pulled out of other judo competitions to avoid Israeli opposition, most recently at the World Championships in Tokyo two years ago.