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Egypt judoka El Shehaby says he didn't break rules over snubbing handshake with Israeli

Reuters , Saturday 13 Aug 2016
Islam El Shehaby
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, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP)
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Egypt's Islam El Shehaby, who caused uproar by refusing the handshake of Israeli judoka Or Sasson after an Olympic match, said he respects the rules of the sport and had no obligation to shake hands with his opponent.

After Sasson had defeated El Shehaby on Friday and the pair retook their places in front of the referee, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands.

When called back by the referee to bow, El Shehaby gave a quick nod before walking off amid loud boos from the crowd .

El Shehaby, 32, had been reportedly pressured by fans on social media not to show up for the match with his Israeli opponent.

"Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he's not my friend," L'Esprit du Judo quoted El Shehaby as saying.

"I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can't ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State, especially in front of the whole world," he said.

Egypt was the first Arab power to make peace with Israel, in 1979, but the treaty remains unpopular among many Egyptians.

The International Olympic Committee opened a disciplinary commission following the incident, saying that "the Olympic spirit should be about building bridges, never about erecting walls."

The International Judo Federation told Reuters that judokas are not obligated to shake hands, only to bow, but it would look into whether any action should be taken.

Sasson went on to win bronze in the +100kg category.

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