Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby was booed by spectators for refusing to shake the hand of Israeli judoka Or Sasson, after losing to him in the first round of the men’s over-100kg competition at the Rio Olympic Games on Friday.
El Shahaby would not take Sasson’s hand after the match, despite the fact that the Japanese judo tradition dictates that both opponents bow to one another and shake hands after a bout. After El Shahaby left the mat area, he was called back by the referee to bow and was loudly booed by angry supporters of Sasson.
Before the match El Shabby, 32, had been pressured by social media and hardline Islamist groups in Egypt to withdraw from the fight, despite the fact that Israel and Egypt have had a peace treaty since 1979, the Times of Israel reported.
The incident is also not the first case of Arab hostility against Israeli athletes at the games. On Aug. 5, the Lebanese delegation to the games refused to share a bus meant to take the athletes to the opening ceremony with the Israeli team. Subsequently on Aug. 7, Saudi Arabian judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius. Israeli media has reported that Fahmy dropped out to avoid competing against Israeli judo fighter Gili Cohen in the next round.
Such behavior by Arab athletes against Israeli athletes are “the norm and there are few if no exceptions to boycotting Israel and Israelis,” Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, told JNS.org last week.