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Algerian judoka and coach suspended for 10 years over Tokyo 2020 withdrawal to avoid facing an Israeli



Algeria’s Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef have been suspended for 10 years by the International Judo Federation (IJF) after withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.

Nourine, 30, who was in the men’s -73kg class, said at the time that his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible to compete.

The IJF said the pair “with malicious intent” used the Games as a “platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda”.

The governing body’s disciplinary commission said it was a “clear and serious breach” of its statutes, code of ethics and the Olympic charter.

Nourine was due to face Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool in his first bout and a win would have paired him with Israel’s Tohar Butbul.

At the time he was provisionally suspended and the Algerian Olympic Committee withdrew their accreditation and sent them home.


The ban covers all IJF events and activities through to 23 July 2031, though they can appeal against the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The incident was not the first time that Nourine had withdrawn from competition to avoid facing an Israeli opponent. He pulled out of the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo for the same reason.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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