Israel's judoka Or Sasson (AP/Markus Schreiber) (AP/Markus Schreiber)
Or Sasson

Morocco is refusing to allow Israel’s Judo team to compete in a tournament in the country. 

Israeli athletes attempting to compete in an event held in an Arab country have again encountered attempts to exclude them.

Morocco is refusing entry to Israel’s national judo team, which is planning to compete at the World Championships Open, slated to be held in Marrakesh next week.

Ori Sasson, Israel’s bronze medalist from the Rio Olympics, is waiting to fly from Munich to Morocco.

The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that Morocco has yet to provide a letter of official confirmation regarding Sasson’s participation, a necessary prerequisite to his travel visa.

Marius Vizer, the president of the International Judo Federation (IJF) has threatened to cancel the entire championship if the Israeli team does not receive the required documents.

Morocco has previously been embroiled in anti-Israel actions in the world of sports.

In May 2015, the Israeli judo team that traveled to the World Masters Judo Tournament held in Rabat, Morocco, were nearly banned from entering the country, and competed before a hostile crowd once the event began.

Israel’s Judo team encountered Muslim hostility in Abu Dhabi last month, when the country barred Israel’s judo team from donning national symbols and refused to play the Jewish state’s national anthem during the tournament.

The 12 Israeli athletes participating in the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam tournament could not even include the letters “ISR” to identify their nationality on their uniforms.

Similarly, in one of the competitions, Israel’s Tohar Butbul beat the UAE’s Rashad Almashjari, who then refused to shake hands after losing.

Mohammad Bin Thaloub Al-Darei, president of the UAE’s Judo Federation, and Aref Al-Awani, another senior Emirates sports official, apologized to Israeli Judo Association head Moshe Ponte, according to a statement from the International Judo Federation.

Muslim Anti-Israel Sentiments in Sports

Muslim anti-Israel sentiments are prevalent in sports.

In February, Iranian karate athlete Majid Hassaninia refused to compete against an Israeli opponent at the 21st Open de Paris – Karate Premier League in France. The Iranian sportsman acted in opposition to the accepted international code of honor in sports.

In April 2016, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent at the Rio Olympics.

Egyptian Judoka Islam El Shehaby lost to Sasson at the 2016 Olympics. When Sasson extended his hand after his victory, El Shehaby backed away and shook his head, injecting Middle Eastern politics into the Rio Olympics. The referee called the 34-year-old El Shehaby back to the mat and ordered him to bow; he gave a quick nod and was loudly booed as he exited.

Judo opponents typically bow or shake hands at the beginning and end of a match as a sign of respect.

The International Olympic Committee, which set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the incident, said the Egyptian’s conduct “was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic values” and sent him home.

By: United with Israel Staff

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