34-year old Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby has been sent home from the Rio Olympics after refusing to shake his opponent’s hand.
The 34-year-old El Shehaby sparked controversy on Friday after losing a first-round heavyweight bout to Israel’s Or Sasson. The 25-year-old Sasson bowed and then walked toward El Shehaby with his hand extended, but El Shehaby backed away from Sasson and would not shake his hand. When the referee then called El Shehaby back to the mat to bow, he quickly nodded as the crowd booed.
Fox Sports reports,per the International Olympic Committee, that the Egyptian Olympic Committee “strongly condemned” El Shehaby’s actions and has sent him home. The game’s closing ceremonies will take place on Sunday, August 21.
Meanwhile, El Shehaby explained his refusal,via Reuters:
“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.
“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.”
Sasson went on to win the the bronze medal with his only defeat against eventual gold medalist Teddy Riner of France.
Photo credit:Getty image