Egyptian Olympic committee blames judoka for snubbing handshake with Israeli

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Aug 2016
Islam El Shehaby
Egypt's Islam El Shehaby reacts after he losing to Israel's Or Sasson, 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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The Egyptian Olympic committee said judoka Islam El-Shehaby should have upheld sportsmanship values after he refused to shake hands with an Israeli opponent following a game which he lost the Rio Games on Friday.

"El-Shehaby was instructed to conform to the principles and standards of sportsmanship during his game against the Israeli judoka," the committee said in a statement.

"It's just a judo game in a global showpiece. What happened after the match was only an individual action from the Egyptian judoka."

El-Shehaby was loudly booed after his first-round loss to Israel's fifth-ranked Or Sasson, when El-Shehaby refused to shake Sasson's hand, in a breach of judo etiquette.

Sasson defeated El-Shehaby with two throws for an automatic victory, with about a minute and a half remaining in the bout.

Afterwards, El-Shehaby lay flat on his back for a moment before standing to take his place before Sasson, in front of the referee. When Sasson extended his hand, El Shehaby backed away, shaking his head.

The referee then called El-Shehaby back to the mat and obliged to him bow; El-Shehaby gave a quick nod of his head.

El-Shehaby refused to comment afterward.

Judo players typically bow or shake hands at the beginning and end of a match, as a sign of respect in the Japanese martial art.

The International Judo Federation said that the fact that the fight even took place between those two athletes was already a major sign of progress.

''This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to (fight) Israel,'' spokesman Nicolas Messner said in an email. He said there was no obligation to shake hands, but to bow is mandatory.

Messner said that even though El Shehaby ultimately bowed, ''his attitude will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken.''

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