Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was defeated by Israel’s Or Sasson in a 100-kilogram match at the Rio Olympics today. It’s customary for judo fighters to shake hands and bow at the conclusion of a match, but when Sasson attempted to shake El Shehaby’s hand, the Egyptian refused.
El Shehaby didn’t explain himself after the match, but it’s certainly possible that his bad sportsmanship had to do with more than just being angry about losing. There is a precedent of Muslim athletes refusing to compete against or be around Israeli athletes—the Lebanese Olympic delegation refused to share a bus with the Israeli delegation earlier this month, and Saudi judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited a first-round match in an apparent attempt to avoid an Israeli opponent—and NRG reported that El Shehaby had been receiving a lot of pressure from fans to withdraw from his match with Sasson.
El Shehaby seemed conflicted about his decision to participate as the bout drew nearer. Via The Algemeiner:
El Shehaby, who is known for his extreme anti-Israel views, told Egyptian media outlets that he would make his decision closer to the fight. “The situation is very sensitive,” he said. “And I don’t want to discuss it.”
Sasson went on to win his next match, and is now in the semi-finals.