Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo OlympicsiStock

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday expressed concern after two judokas withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics in order to avoid facing Israelis.

Algerian Fethi Nourine was suspended by the International Judo Federation on Saturday and ordered to leave Tokyo after pulling out of the men's 73kg event in order to avoid Israeli Tohar Butbul.

On Monday, Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool also withdrew from the competition rather than face Butbul.

As a result, Butbul automatically advanced to the next round, finishing seventh overall in the competition.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, IOC director of solidarity James Macleod responded to the withdrawals and said, "Obviously the IOC is always concerned in these cases and is monitoring it very closely.”

"If there are flagrant abuses of the Olympic charter, the IOC will take all necessary measures in that respect. The IOC is looking at every case that's brought to us. We will investigate every case that's brought to us, even from third parties,” he added.

"The IOC has been very clear that non-discrimination, autonomy, all these principles in the Olympic charter, are things we will not flinch from and we will adopt a strict position on all of those," stated Macleod.

Athletes from countries that do not have ties with Israel regularly withdraw from sporting competitions in order to avoid facing Israelis.

The most famous incident in recent years was that of Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to throw a match against Israelis, even after the International Judo Federation (IJF) and Iran reached an agreement which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.

Mollaei later travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum. He was recognized as a refugee in Germany in November of 2019 and recently won a silver medal at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam, where he represented Mongolia.

On Tuesday, Mollaei won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, which he dedicated to the State of Israel.