Syrian Boxer Quits Olympic Qualifiers to Avoid Israeli Opponent

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Illustration: A match at the 2016 World Olympic Qualification Event in Baku.
Illustration: A match at the 2016 World Olympic Qualification Event in Baku.Credit: Reuters

A boxer from Syria bowed out of a qualifying round for the Olympics because he would have had to face off against an Israeli contender, Boxing Scene reported on its web site.

Ala Ghasoun had been scheduled to vie against Israel's Artium Musley, who automatically moved to the next round in the qualifiers taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan, Ynet reported.

The contest is mandatory qualifier to compete in the Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro in August.

"I quit the competition because my rival was Israeli and I cannot shake his hand or compete against him while he represents a Zionist regime that kills the Syrian people," Ghasoun was quoted as telling Arab media.

"If I fight againt him, it would mean that I, as an athlete, and Syria, as a state, recognize the state of Israel," he said.

Ghasoun added that "the decision to quit was not mine" but mandated by senior Syrian officials and the Syrian Sports Federation.

Another Israeli boxer had to negotiate his way around another obstacle when he had trouble getting a visa to Azerbaijan due to his Armenian name. His solution: Changing his name from David Alberdiyan to David Alberadov, Ynet reported.

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