Egyptian Olympic athlete Islam El Shehaby has been sent home for refusing to shake hands with an Israeli competitor, Or Sasson. El Shehaby blatantly disrespected Judo traditions, the International Olympic committee (IOC), and the entire country of Israel with his unsportsmanlike conduct. Chehaby has been condemned by the Egyptian Olympic committee, the IOC, and the fans that can be heard booing the dishonorable Judoka at the time of the incident. El Shehaby claims that he refused to shake hands with Sasson for personal reasons and denies any antisemitic motives. Despite his defense the Olympic committee has decided to follow through with their decision to remove Shehaby from Rio.
See video of the incident below:
Shehaby made history Friday night by presenting his political prejudices to a global audience. The Egyptian contradicted the spirit of the games by refusing to abide by some of the Olympic’s core values such as “rules of fair play” and “spirit of friendship.” Shehaby, possibly embarrassed by just losing the match to Sasson, not only refused to shake Sasson’s hand but ran from Sasson as he approached with his hand extended. CBS News reports that Shahaby was being pressured to back out of the fight completely by Islamist-leaning nationalists from Egypt.
Mataz Matar is one of the nationalists that was pushing for Shehaby to back out of the competition. He stated on a Al-Sharq Islamist-leaning network TV program:
“My son watch out, don’t be fooled, or fool yourself thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy, Egypt will cry; Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.”
Despite evidence showing that there was immense pressure for Shehaby to back out of any competition against an Israeli he claims that Sasson’s faith was not a determining factor in his disrespectful charade. He claims that “personal reason” preventing him from following traditional judo etiquette. After the bout he told reporters.
“I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different belief… But for personal reasons, you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State, especially in front of the whole world.”
Shehaby is a member of the ultraconservative Salafi movement; a reform movement within Sunni Islam with ties to radical Islam and Jihadism. His association with this particular form of Islam has led many to doubt the validity of his statements.
Sasson has not commented on Shehaby’s behavior.Or Sassoon went on to receive a Bronze medal in the 100+ Kg category of the 2016 Summer Judo games.