Jordanian Judo Athlete Refuses to Fight Israeli at Major Tournament

Published August 15th, 2018 - 06:16 GMT
Photo: The New Arab
Photo: The New Arab

A Jordanian Judo practitioner has refused to compete against an Israeli at an international tournament in the latest act of boycott against Israeli athletes.

Baker al-Zidaneen refused to face off against Sagi Muki last week at the Budapest 2018 Grand Prix in the under 81kg category, Zidaneen's brother Bilal told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

"My brother was under pressure to compete but he refused to go ahead with the match," Bilal said.

"Baker does not recognise the state of the Zionist entity, so how could recognise an athlete representing this entity?" he added.

Zidaneen's decision has been hailed as a symbolic act of resistance by social media users in Jordan and residents of his hometown of Busaira.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the move and accused Zidaneen of purposely overeating to disqualify himself from the tournament.

The move is the latest in a boycott of Israeli sports, similar to the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa.

In June, the Argentinian football team cancelled a match against Israel in Jerusalem following pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

Activists have slammed football's world governing body, FIFA, for "tarnishing the beautiful game" by sanctioning matches in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities have long been accused of discrimination against Palestinian athletes.

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