Israel's Sagi Muki after a victory. (Roy Alima/Flash90) (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Israel's Sagi Muki

Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won a bronze medal after his Jordanian opponent intentionally gained weight to avoid competing against him.

By: United with Israel and the Tower

An Israeli sportsman was again faced with discrimination when his Jordanian opponent ate so much ahead of the match that he flunked the weigh-in, thereby disqualifying himself from competing against Israeli Sagi Muki.

On Friday at the Budapest Grand Prix 2018 in Hungary, the Jordanin judoka, whose name is reportedly Baker Alzidaneen, was forced to withdraw after sudden weight gain placed him outside the under-81 kilogram category in which he usually competes.

Muki, a European champion, went on to win the first bronze medal in the competition. Muki took the lead with a makikomi effort against Sami Chouchi of Belarus and added a second and match-winning waza-ari to capture his spot on the podium.

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, tweeted that “a Jordanian judoka [gorged] himself with food in order to be above the weight limit and not compete against Israel’s Sagi Muki.”

“To some, he is a hero. To me, that Jordanian judoka is the embodiment of anti-sport. By the way, Sagi Muki won a bronze medal,” he added.

An Iranian Judoka pulled a similar stunt in February.

For years, Israeli athletes have faced boycotts, snubs and logistical hurdles in sporting events involving Arab and Muslim countries.

Last month, International Judo Federation President Marius Vizer decided to cancel IJF events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Tunisia over their anti-Israel discrimination.

“We strongly believe that politics should not have any interference in sports and that sports should be a reflection of human respect, understanding and mutual cooperation and that sports, as one of the highest expressions of humanity, should have the power to overcome any other conflict or interest,” the IJF stated.

‘If That’s Not Racism, What Is?’

Commenting on the anti-Israel bias in sports tournaments, Joshua S. Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in an op-ed for The Algemeiner on Friday that “for the ‘crime’ of being Israeli, [7-year-old Liel Levitan] is prohibited from playing in the World Chess Championship, because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete. If that’s not racism, what is?”

He also cited previous incidents of “horrific acts of discrimination” against Israeli athletes, including the World Chess Championship in Saudi Arabia in December from which Israel’s players were excluded because of their nationality, as well as the refusal of the Lebanese national team to share a bus with their Israeli counterparts during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Block contrasted these vile acts of discrimination with the inclusive atmosphere at the World Lacrosse Championship, which took place in Netanya earlier this month.

“In a vibrant festival of sport, 46 teams from all over the world competed against each other across ethnic, religious, and cultural divides,” Block underscored. “Sports are a team-building exercise. They’re meant to bring strangers together in a celebration of healthy competition — and that’s exactly what happened in Netanya during the lacrosse event.”

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