Olympics ethics committee warns Egyptian judoka Shehabi

The Ethics Committee of the International Olympic Committee has reprimanded Egyptian judo player Islam al-Shehaby for refusing to shake hands with his Israeli rival following a match last Friday.

The committee identified Shehaby has having violated the rules of sportsmanlike behaviour and called on him not to repeat the transgression.

The Egyptian marital artist sparked uproar by refusing to shake hands with Or Sasson after the Israeli beat him in the over-100 kg category. After the Israeli defeated Shehaby with a winning throw, the pair retook their places in front of the referee. But when Sasson bowed to his counterpart and extended his hand, Shehaby simply backed away.

When called back by the referee to bow, Shehaby gave a quick nod before walking off amid loud boos from the crowd.

After the match, Shehaby said that he respects the rules of the sport but was under no obligation to shake hands with his opponent.

Shehaby, 32, had been under pressure from some fans on social media not to show up for the match with his Israeli opponent, saying that entering a sporting competition with an Israeli would bring shame in Islam. While Shehaby and his trainers said the match would go ahead, rumours then spread that he would make a statement on the day by refusing to shake hands.

"Shaking hands with your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he's not my friend," said the Egyptian, according to L'Esprit du Judo magazine.

"I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion or different beliefs. But for personal reasons, you can't ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this country, especially in front of the whole world," he said.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab power to make peace with Israel, but the treaty remains unpopular with many Egyptians, who condemn Israel for ongoing violations against Palestinians.

The International Olympic Committee opened a disciplinary commission following the incident, saying, "The Olympic spirit should be about building bridges, never about erecting walls."

The International Judo Federation told Reuters on August 13 that judokas are not obligated to shake hands, only to bow, but it would look into whether any action should be taken.

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