Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine says “we worked a lot to reach the Olympics... but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this.”

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli.
Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli. (Twitter/@staddoha)

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics before competing over a draw that set him on course for a possible match-up against an Israeli opponent.

Nourine was set to face Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool for his first bout and would have taken on Israeli Tohar Butbul in the next round.

Speaking to an Algerian television station, Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli.

"We worked a lot to reach the Olympics... but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this," he said, adding that his decision was "final".

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It is not the first time that Nourine has withdrawn from competition to avoid facing an Israeli opponent; he also pulled out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo.

Iranian judokas have also come under fire for refusing to compete against their Israeli counterparts. 

READ MORE: Algeria is unapologetically pro-Palestinian, and it won't change

Source: AFP