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.
Sasson went on to qualify for the semifinals, after beating Polish and Dutch opponents, sparking hopes of a second medal for Israel.
The incident was not the first drama to unfold between Israeli athletes and their Arab counterparts at the Olympics in Rio.