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Egyptian Judoka Snubs Israeli Athlete Who Beat Him

  • VOA News

Egypt's Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel's Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men's over 100-kg judo competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 12, 2016.

Egypt's Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel's Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men's over 100-kg judo competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 12, 2016.

An Egyptian judo athlete was loudly booed at the Rio Olympics when he refused to shake hands with the Israeli judoka who defeated him.

Islam El Shehaby of Egypt lost to Or Sasson of Israel Friday in a first-round match in the heaviest weight class.

With about a minute and a half left in the bout, Sasson earned an automatic victory after twice throwing El Shehaby to the mat.

The Egyptian lay flat on his back for a moment before rising and standing opposite Sasson in front of the referee. When Sasson extended his hand, El Shehaby backed away, shaking his head.

The arena erupted in jeers as he walked away only to be called back by the referee and obliged to acknowledge his opponent. El Shehaby gave a quick nod and backed away.

Competitors in the Japanese martial art typically bow or shake hands at the beginning and end of a match as a sign of respect. To decline a handshake is highly unusual and a serious breach of judo etiquette.

A judo federation spokesman said in an email to The Associated Press that a bow was mandatory, but that shaking hands was not. He said El Shehaby’s “attitude will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken.”

El Shehaby, an ultraconservative Salafi Muslim, had come under pressure before the games from Egyptian conservatives who wanted him to withdraw from the first-round bout against Sasson.

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