A Muslim from Iran was the most recent player to express hatred towards an Israeli Jew in the supposedly friendly world of sports.
Iranian karate athlete Majid Hassaninia has refused to compete against an Israeli opponent at the 21st Open de Paris – Karate Premier League in France.
Iran’s PressTV news reported that on Friday, Hassaninia did not show up for a scheduled competition against a representative from Israel in the first round of men’s minus 60-kilogram weight class, and was subsequently excluded from the rest of the tournament.
“Even though I had personally paid all the fees for my participation in the contests and wished to assess my preparedness in the designated weight division, what is of paramount importance to every Iranian athlete is his beliefs, plus support for the defenseless Palestinian nation,” he stated.
Iran, which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, has long refused to engage in sports competitions against Israelis.
The tournament has brought together more than 1,200 male and female athletes from 78 nations.
The Iranian sportsman acted in opposition to the accepted international code of honor in sports.
Hassaninia may have feared an outcome similar to that experienced by Egyptian Judoka Islam El Shehaby, who lost to Israeli athlete Or Sasson at the 2016 Olympics.
El Shehaby was ridiculed and condemned throughout the Muslim world for losing to a Jew from Israel.
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.
El Shehaby, an ultraconservative Salafi Muslim, had come under pressure from Islamist-leaning and nationalist voices in Egypt before the Rio Games to withdraw, but he competed anyway.
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.
The Egyptian Olympic Committee also “strongly condemned” El Shehaby’s actions “and has sent him home,” the IOC said, also warning the Egyptian committee to make sure that all its athletes “receive proper education on the Olympic values before coming to the Olympic Games.”
Similar incidents have happened before at judo competitions between Israelis and Arabs.