Refusing to Judge Karate Match With Israeli Gets Two Referees Banned

The judges, a Syrian and Tunisian, abandoned the mat when the 14-year-old Israeli stepped up at the at junior world karate championship

The 2008 Karate sports championship at the Wingate Institute.
Daniel Tchetchik

Two karate referees, a Tunisian and a Syrian, were banned from judging at the World Karate Federation Junior Championship held in Tenerife, Spain this past week after they refused to referee a fight including an Israeli.

When 14-year-old Mateja Rogozarski stepped onto the mat in the 84-kilogram weight class at the Under 21 championship, the referees abandoned their posts and refused to judge the bout with an Israeli competing. The two referees stood up in protest and walked off, said Gidon Schwabe, an international karate referee from Israel. One was a novice judge from Syria and the other a more senior judge from Tunisia.

The assignments for referees are made randomly by computer, based on criteria to prevent conflicts of interest based on nationality or regional affinity.

Some 1,700 fighters from 110 countries participated in the tournament, including 12 Israelis and two Israeli referees.

Karate will make its first appearance as an Olympic sport in Tokyo in 2020.