Egyptian judoka sent home over handshake refusal with Israeli

Published: August 16, 2016


Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby has been sent home from the Rio Olympics after refusing to shake the hand of Israeli Or Sasson following the end of their bout, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday.

El Shehaby, who was sent home by his own team, lost the fight on Friday and was reprimanded by the IOC for his actions. The athlete said he did not want to shake hands with an Israeli, nor was he obliged to do so under judo rules, but the IOC said his behavior went against the rules and spirit of the Olympic Games and the rules of fair play.

Egyptian judoka refuses to shake hands with Israeli rival

“The President of the National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in a statement.

After Sasson defeated El Shehaby and the pair retook their places in front of the referee, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands.

When called back by the referee to bow, El Shehaby gave a quick nod before walking off amid loud boos from the crowd . “The Disciplinary Commission (DC) considered that his behavior at the end of the competition was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values,” the IOC said.

“The DC issued a ‘severe reprimand for inappropriate behavior’ to the athlete. It noted … the shaking of hands after a match is not in the competition rules of the International Judo Federation.”

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“As well as a severe reprimand, the DC has asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games,” the IOC said.

El Shehaby, 32, had reportedly been pressured by fans on social media not to show up for the match with his Israeli opponent, who went on to win bronze in the +100kg category, because it would shame Islam.

This is not the first time athletes from Arab nations or Iran refuse to compete with Israeli athletes in Olympics or other international competitions.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics then Iranian world champion Arash Mirasmaeili refused to fight Israeli judoka Ehud Vaks, earning praise back home.

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“Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he’s not my friend,” El Shehaby said after his bout.

“I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State, especially in front of the whole world,” he said.

Egypt was the first Arab power to make peace with Israel, in 1979, but the treaty remains unpopular among many Egyptians.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Haramullah
    Aug 16, 2016 - 10:23AM

    It is shows how the hatred is being taught, it has not spared the sports.Recommend

  • OSD
    Aug 16, 2016 - 11:02AM

    Thank you Islam El-Shahaby for standing up for our Palestinian brothers! We support you for your bravery!Recommend

  • Haramullah
    Aug 16, 2016 - 11:41AM

    Its not bravery, infact it is cowardness. If that much hate is there, he should not have got in to the match. Sportsman should have sportsman spirit, this act was against it. Recommend

  • Jay
    Aug 16, 2016 - 11:52AM

    @OSD:When BCCI refuse to play Pakistan , most Pakistani come up with ” Sports and politics should be kept separate ” When a Muslims guy mixes that he is hailed as a hero. This same dual standard is keep Pakistan nation on the boil. or rather Muslims nation on the boil… Recommend

  • Aalo Ghosht
    Aug 16, 2016 - 12:11PM

    @OSD: What kind of bravery is that. The colors of the interlocking Olympic rings appear on the flags of the country that participate in the Olympics, whose basic theme is harmony. Politics and sports should be kept aside and what the Egyptian athlete did was wrong. What he should have done is beaten then athlete on the field instead of a cowardly act of not shaking the hand and assuming that he had a higher ground.Recommend

  • Unknown
    Aug 16, 2016 - 12:47PM


    Its not hatred, its solidarity with the defenseless Palestinians. Perhaps you have never heard word of empathy ever. Get into school, typical uneducated Indian Recommend

  • Haramullah
    Aug 16, 2016 - 1:57PM

    Then avoid the action in sports wherever Israel is playing. Its simply a frustration of the player after losing a match, which is against the spirit of the game.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Aug 16, 2016 - 2:32PM

    Although there is so much political hatred between Pakistan and India, but whenever I meet Indians we warmly greet each other or shake hands! We always remind each other, “we are same people!”
    I have very good experience with Israelis! In contrary to the Arabs and Egyptians, they are very cultured and soft spoken. Whenever I have Israeli customers in my shop I gift them a music Cd from Ustad Fateh Ali Khan & Jan Garbarek “Ragas and sagas”!

    Sharing love is bliss! Recommend

  • Principles
    Aug 16, 2016 - 2:40PM

    Israel is an illegal state, built on Palestinian land by displacing hundreds of thousands of men women and children, who are still living in camps. Well done Alshahaby !Recommend

  • JJ
    Aug 16, 2016 - 2:43PM

    He did the good job not shaking hands with the terrorists…. I also hate to shake hands with Indeeee terrorists….Recommend

  • Unknown
    Aug 16, 2016 - 2:44PM


    Then did BCCI played? It didnt, so don’t try to advocate something which you yourself didn’t do on the first place. Hypocrisy is in the roots of you Indians Recommend

  • Mr.Bukhari
    Aug 16, 2016 - 4:18PM

    The fact is that a non-muslim can not be the well wisher of a Muslim in any way. Therefore we should avoid to waste time to discuss on the issue. We hate israel because they came in Palestine as tenant and then forcefully occupied the entire Palestine, still they are killing innocent people (my brothers) of Palestine.

    Likewise we hate india as it is doing the same in Kashmir.Recommend

  • JJ
    Aug 16, 2016 - 4:49PM

    @Bukhari…. I endorse your comments… Look the Indians are teaching not to hate to Israels who itself hate the ‘Dalits’ in their own country being their nationals…Double Standard Indians first learn to love their Dalits, live together with them and share foods…. Recommend

  • Mr.Bukhari
    Aug 16, 2016 - 4:59PM

    agreed JJRecommend

  • Fawad Alam
    Aug 16, 2016 - 5:00PM

    This is intolerance shown by Olympic committee, Ummah needs to boycott from Olympics. enough is enough we Muslim countries can held our own ‘Muslim Olympics’. Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 16, 2016 - 5:02PM

    @goggi (Lahore):
    I hope an illegal Israeli Settler from West bank or Gaza also thinks the same as you do. But the reality is the opposite. They hate the Palestinians and don’t even spare their children. So why cant we as Muslims show our hatred towards them ?. Why do our actions get noticed and their actions ignored ?Recommend

  • Haramullah
    Aug 16, 2016 - 5:24PM

    Your action is getting noticed because you are raising it at the wrong platform.Recommend

  • dave
    Aug 16, 2016 - 6:49PM

    I imagine that you do eat and drink with Hindus, Shia and the Ahmadi in your own country.Recommend

  • Filam
    Aug 16, 2016 - 7:18PM

    Well, if a Muslim do this act, its hate, violence, terrorism. When Christiano Rondaldo did that, it was kindness and love with humanity. Recommend

  • PIn2
    Aug 16, 2016 - 8:48PM

    A very good gesture of solidarity toward Palestine shown by the Egyptian by not shaking hands and bowing at the end of the match. Shows that no muslim will ever bow to a non-muslim.

    Losing a match of physical strength and skill to a non-muslim is a different matter altogether!Recommend

  • curious2
    Aug 16, 2016 - 8:51PM

    Smart move by the Egyptian Olympic Team – if they didn’t do anything chances are the Olympic Committee would have permanently banned Shehaby.Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 16, 2016 - 11:38PM

    Which is the right platform then ?….The silent observers in the United Nations ?…. I don’t think soRecommend

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