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Tokyo Olympics: Algerian judoka withdraws over potential meeting with Israeli

Nourine announced his withdrawal shortly before his team-mates joined the opening ceremony at the OlympicsAlgerian judoka Fethi Nourine has withdrawn from Tokyo 2020 after the draw set him on course for a potential meeting with an Israeli opponent.Nourine, 30, was due to face Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool in Monday’s first round of the men’s -73kg class.Victory would have meant he would take on Israel’s Tohar Butbul next.Speaking to Algerian TV, he said he would not “get his hands dirty” and his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible to compete.Nourine pulled out of the 2019 world championships, also in Tokyo, after being paired with Butbul – who has a first-round bye.”We were unlucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision,” Nourine’s coach Amar Ben Yaklif told Algerian media.The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken place over decades, with tensions flaring again in 2021 as confrontations in contested Jerusalem triggered cross-border clashes.Athletes from other countries, including Iran and Egypt, have also previously refused to compete against Israelis.Iran was banned by the International Judo Federation (IJF) for four years after it ordered Saeid Mollaei to pull out of the world championships in Japan in 2019.

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