Spectators at a judo match in Rio were treated to a Middle Eastern drama on Friday, when an Egyptian judoka refused to shake the hand of his Israeli rival.
The Israeli Or Sasson had just defeated the Egyptian Islam el-Shahabi, qualifying for the next stage of the 100 kilogram and over weight class, when he bowed to the Egyptian. El-Shahabi stayed upright, and when Sasson approached him, his hand outstretched, the Egyptian snubbed the gesture. El-Sharabi stepped off the mat, to the audience's boos.
Ahead of the match Egyptian media reported that el-Shahabi may forfeit the match completely, just to avoid facing an Israeli opponent. Such forfeits are not uncommon. However, Egyptian judokas usually opt for the compromise el-Shahabi eventually took: Fighting the match, but refusing to shake hands.
The incident was not the first drama to unfold between Israeli athletes and their Arab counterparts at the Olympics in Rio.
Last week, the Lebanese delegation barred Israeli athletes from boarding a bus the two teams were meant to take to the opening ceremony. Officials ended up organizing a separate bus ride for the Israeli delegation.
The head of the Lebanese group, who physically blocked the Israeli athletes from boarding the shuttle, was later reprimanded by the International Olympics Committee.
During an official hearing on the incident, Lebanese delegation head Salim al-Naj Nakoula had said the incident was a misunderstanding. Speaking to a Lebanese newspaper however, Nakoula insisted that he had the right to prevent another team's athletes from joining them on the transport reserved for them.
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