ALGIERS (Dispatches) – Algerian judoka Fathi Nourine, after arriving in his country, expressed his pride after his decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to avoid facing a Zionist competitor.
Nourine told reporters at Algiers airport: “My coach and I took the decision together and I am proud of it. This decision honors me first, honors my family, and honors the Algerian people and the Algerian state, because President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared to the world that we do not consent to normalization, and we support the Palestinian cause.”
“I am glad I could vex the Zionist entity, and I received encouraging phone calls from the Arab and Islamic world,” he added.
Nourine was due to face Sudanese player Mohamed Abdalrasool, on July 24, in his first match in the round of 64, and would have been paired with Zionist Tohar Butbul in the round of 32 in the men’s 73kg weight category.
However, four days before the match Nourine announced that he would be withdrawing from the event because “the Palestinian cause is more important than these matters, and this is an irreversible decision.”
He explained upon his return to Algeria: “I was shocked when I saw that the draw paired me with the wrestler of the Zionist entity, which I did not see coming, but I did not hesitate to take the decision to withdraw.”
The Executive Committee of the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced the temporary suspension of Nourine and his coach, Ammar Benkhlef.
Nourine took a similar step during the 2019 World Judo Championships in Tokyo.
Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool also pulled out of this year’s Olympics to avoid facing a Zionist player.