Egyptian judoka sent home

Egyptian judoka Islam El-Shahabi, who refused to shake the hand of Israeli Or Sasson in Rio, sent home.

Elad Benari,

Islam el-Shahabi and Or Sasson at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Islam el-Shahabi and Or Sasson at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Egyptian judoka Islam El-Shahabi, who refused to shake the hand of Israeli Or Sasson following the end of their bout last week, was sent home from the Rio Olympics on Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.

El-Shahabi was sent home by his own team, Reuters reported, and was reprimanded by the IOC for his actions.

The IOC acknowledged that the rules of judo do not oblige players to shake hands but said the Egyptian's behavior went against the Games' "rules of fair play" and "spirit of friendship".

"The Egyptian Olympic Committee has also strongly condemned the actions of Mr. Islam El-Shahabi and has sent him home," the IOC said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

"The President of the National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games," it added.

After Sasson defeated El-Shahabi and the pair retook their places in front of the referee last Friday, the Egyptian backed away when Sasson bowed and approached him to shake hands.

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

Egypt's Olympic Committee later distanced itself from el-Shahabi's actions, saying the decision to refuse the handshake was his own.

“El-Shahabi was alerted before the match to abide by all the rules and to have sporting spirit during his match with the Israeli player,” it said, adding, “What the player did after the match, and not shaking hands with his rival, is a personal action.”

Sasson, for his part, won Israel's second bronze medal in the Rio Olympics hours later, when he defeated Cuban Alex Garcia Mendoza in a consolation round in the men's 100 kilogram plus weight class.

"The Disciplinary Commission (DC) considered that [El-Shahabi's] behavior at the end of the competition was contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values," the IOC said Monday, according to Reuters.

"The DC issued a 'severe reprimand for inappropriate behavior' to the athlete. It noted....the shaking of hands after a match is not in the competition rules of the International Judo Federation."

"As well as a severe reprimand, the DC has asked the Egyptian Olympic Committee to ensure in future that all their athletes receive proper education on the Olympic Values before coming to the Olympic Games," the IOC said.

El-Shahabi defended his actions after the bout saying, "Shaking the hand of your opponent is not an obligation written in the judo rules. It happens between friends and he's not my friend."

"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 State, especially in front of the whole world," he said.