An Egyptian judoka has been reprimanded and sent home by the International Olympic Committee for refusing to shake the hand of an Israeli competitor who beat him on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Islam El Shehaby, who has been described as an an ultra-conservative Salafi Muslim by the Associated Press, came under fire after losing to Israel’s Or Sasson in the first round of the over-100 kg competition. Sasson earned the victory with about 90 seconds remaining in the match, and after it was over, he extended his hand in customary post-match fashion. El Shehaby declined. After he backed away, El Shehaby was called back to the mat by an official to give a bow that is also customary in the sport, and after a brief nod, he walked off the floor to a loud chorus of boos.
The Associated Press also reported Saturday that the 34-year-old El Shehaby “had come under pressure before the games from Islamist-leaning and nationalist voices in Egypt to withdraw from the first-round heavyweight bout against Or Sasson.” The Algemeiner Journal, a Jewish newspaper based in the United States, said that El Shehaby, the 2010 world judo championships’ bronze medalist, “is known for his extreme anti-Israel views” and was undecided in the hours prior to the match as to whether he would even take the mat against Sasson. The post-match incident is being described by some as a prime example of the ongoing political tension in the Middle East.
— Ghanem Nuseibeh ن (@gnuseibeh) August 12, 2016
— Zvi Lando (@zlando) August 12, 2016
— Alan Ortega (@aelmoo) August 12, 2016
My sons just asked me why El-Shehaby refused to shake Sasson's hand at the end of their bout. A little hard to explain to 5 year olds. #Rio
— Dr Paul Stott (@MrPaulStott) August 12, 2016
While El Shehaby declined to comment after the match, Sasson, who went on to capture a bronze medal in the event, seemed unfazed by the situation on Sunday.
“I knew he would do it, so it wasn’t a surprise for me,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “But I cannot say anything. This was his decision.”