ALGIERS- A day before the Tokyo Olympics are set to officially open, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine pulled out, on Thursday, of the games in order to avoid facing a Zionist competitor.
To this end, the decision was made by Nourine after he was drawn, earlier Thursday, to face Tohar Butbul in the second round of the under-73kg men’s judo competition.
The 30-year-old judoka was due to face, on Monday, Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool in his first match in the men’s 73 kg class. A victory would have paired him with Butbul.
Fethi Nourine told Algerian TV that his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against Tohar Butbul.
“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, and the news came as a shock, a thunder,” he told the channel late on Thursday. Nourine said his decision was “final,” and he would not “get his hands dirty.”
It is not the first time that Nourine has withdrawn from competition to avoid facing a Zionist opponent. He pulled out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo for the same reason.
“We were unlucky with the draw. We got a Zionist opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision,” Nourine’s coach Amar Ben Yaklif pointed out.