Egypt Criticizes Local Judoka Who Refused to Shake Hands With Israeli Opponent

'Sports and politics need to be kept kept separate,' Foreign Ministry says after Mohamed Abdelaal declines to greet Sagi Muki in world championship semifinals

Itamar Katzir
Itamar Katzir
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Israeli judoka Sagi Muki extends his hand to Egypt's Mohamed Abdelaal.
Israeli judoka Sagi Muki extends his hand to Egypt's Mohamed Abdelaal.Credit: AFP
Itamar Katzir
Itamar Katzir

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has criticized an Egyptian judoka, Mohamed Abdelaal, for refusing to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent, Sagi Muki, who defeated the Egyptian in the semifinals of the World Judo Championships. The Israeli went on to win the championship on Wednesday.

Despite Muki's historic gold medal on Wednesday at the World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Arab sports media devoted much of their attention to Abdelaal. Following his loss, Abdelaal refused to shake hands with Muki, who had extended his own hand. For its part, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that "sports needs to be kept separate from politics."

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On Thursday, Egyptian Judo Federation Vice President Marzouk Ali issued a statement saying that the Abdelaal's refusal to shake Muki's hand was the result of unfairness in the Egyptian's loss. "There was injustice behind Abdelaal's loss," Ali said. "The Israeli should have lost, which didn't happen, and the Egyptian judoka therefore didn't shake his hand."

The Israeli embassy in Cairo also weighed in on the matter, referring to the peace treaty that Egypt signed with Israel in 1979. "After 40 years of peace and innumerable handshakes," the embassy tweeted in Arabic, "Sagi Muki extended his hand to Mohamed Abdelaal after beating him in the world championship semifinals, in a sportsmanlike spirit."

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