Egyptian Olympian Sent Home After Refusing To Shake Israeli Opponent’s Hand

Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel’s Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men’s over 100-kg judo competition at the Olympics / AP
• August 15, 2016 5:31 pm


Egyptian judo athlete Islam El Shehaby was sent home Monday from the Rio Olympics for refusing to shake his Israeli competitor’s hand after losing a match to him on Friday.

El Shehaby was sent home as punishment for his actions, the Associated Press reported via Twitter.

El Shehaby was defeated by Or Sasson of Israel. When Sasson extended his hand to El Shehaby after the match, the Egyptian backed away and shook his head. Sasson won in a men’s 100-kilogram match.

"It is customary for the the judokas to bow toward one another following the conclusion of a match, but El Shehaby instead lingered on the mat and refused to get up," Business Insider reported.

Sasson could be seen trying to bow and shake El Shehaby’s hand at least four separate times.

"When El Shehaby finally did get up, Sasson tried three times to bow to him. El Shehaby refused to reciprocate on each occasion. Then, Sasson approached El Shehaby and extended his hand, to which El Shehaby backed away," Business Insider described.

The crowd booed when they saw El Shehaby refuse the handshake.

The Algemeiner, an Israeli news site, reported that fans of the Egyptian judoka said that if he were to shake Sasson’s hand, he would be shaming Islam.

According to the report, in spite of repeated assertions from the chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee that Islam El Shehaby will appear on the mat for his slated match against Israeli judoka Or Sasson–going as far as to warn the athlete that, if he fails to do so, his Egyptian citizenship will be revoked–calls from fans on Facebook and Twitter for him to shun the fight have been intensifying.

"You will shame Islam," wrote one angry follower. "If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself. We don’t want to think what will happen if you lost to an Israeli. Victory will give you nothing. How can you cooperate with a murderous nation?"

El Shehaby told Egyptian media that shaking Sasson’s hand is a "very sensitive" situation and he did not wish to discuss what he was going to do.

Published under: Egypt, Israel, Sports