Tokyo 2020 - Algerian judoka and coach receive ten-year ban after refusing to fight Israeli at Olympics
Fethi Nourine has received a decade-long ban from the International Judo Federation after pulling out of the men's 73kg class after the draw put him on course to face Israel's Tohar Butbul. Nourine has said his support for Palestine made it impossible to compete against Butbul, and the Algerian Olympic Committee withdrew accreditation for him and his coach, sending them home from the Games.
A general view on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Nippon Budokan on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
That caused the Algerian Olympic Committee to send both he and Benikhlef home from Japan having had their Olympic accreditations revoked.
It was not the first time that Nourine has withdrawn from competition in such a manner - in 2019, the Algerian pulled out of the world championships in Tokyo having similarly been set to face an Israeli opponent.
At the 2016 Olympics, Islam El Shehaby of Egypt quit the sport having refused to shake the hand of Or Sasson, the Israeli +100kg competitor who had beaten him in the first round in Rio de Janeiro.
The IJF said that Nourine and Benikhlef had used the Olympics "as a platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda".
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The body suspended Iran for four years in April after the nation put pressure on one of its fighters not to face an Israeli athlete.
Palestine is a de jure sovereign state, officially governed by the Palestine LIiberation Organization and claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
However, in practice, administrative control is only held partially over the 167 "islands" of the West Bank, and the entirety of the territory claimed has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
The State of Palestine is recognized by 138 of the 193 members of the United Nations, and has had UN non-member, observer state status since 2012.