Egyptian Judoka Disrespects Israeli Rival (Video)

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Israeli judoko extends his hand to Egyptian rivalIsraeli judoko extends his hand to Egyptian rival

In a major breach of etiquette, Egyptian judo fighter Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with his Israeli rival after he lost the first-round match at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 12 (video below).

El Shehaby was met with a chorus of boos from the audience when he decided to back away and shake his head when his rival, Or Sasson, extended his hand in a gesture of goodwill, according to the Daily Mail.

As a sign of respect, judo players will either bow or shake hands at the beginning and end of a match. After El Shehaby's snub, the referee called him back to the mat to force him to bow. The Egyptian Olympian only gave a quick nod of the head.

Although he refused to comment after the match, his disrespect was probably in part due to the mounting pressure from Islamic and nationalist groups in Egypt that tried to get him to withdraw from the match completely. 

"You will shame Islam. If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself," said one angry Egyptian on Twitter, according to the Daily Mail. "How can you cooperate with a murderous nation?"

"Egypt will cry [if you play]," said a TV host on an Islamist-leaning network. "Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people."

The New York Times reports that it is mandatory for players to bow both before and after a match. Shaking hands is not officially required but is considered to be part of an unspoken code of conduct.

A judo federation spokesman said El Shehaby’s "attitude will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken."

"That is extremely rare in judo," said American judo coach Jimmy Pedro to The New York Times. "It is especially disrespectful considering it was a clean throw and a fair match. It was completely dishonorable and totally unsportsmanlike on the part of the Egyptian."

But, according to the Daily Mail, the International Judo Federation also maintained that the fact the fight even occurred was actually a sign of progress. 

"This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to [fight] Israel," said a spokesman.

Sources: Daily Mail, The New York Times / Photo credit: NBC/YouTube

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