An Egyptian judo athlete was dismissed from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Monday for refusing to shake the hand of an opponent from Israel and not embodying the fair rules of play during a match last Friday.
The athlete, Islam El Shehaby of Egypt, lost his fight against Or Sasson of Israel last week and exhibited poor sportsmanship after the event, according to the International Olympic Committee.
"The Egyptian Olympic Committee has also strongly condemned the actions of Mr. Islam El Shehaby and has sent him home," the IOC said in a statement. "The President of the National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games."
While judo athletes are not required to shake hands at the end of a competition, the national and international committees said El Shehaby's behavior crossed the line of acceptable etiquette, prompting his team dismissal of him from the games.
"The Disciplinary Commission (DC) considered that his 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.
El Shehaby, 32, defended his actions amidst the fallout.
"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," El Shehaby told Reuters. "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."
Egypt and Israel improved diplomatic relations in 1979, but some Egyptians have not come to terms with the agreement. A similar disagreement took place last week when a Saudi Arabian judo athlete refused to participate in her first-round match at the Summer Olympics in Rio Sunday, reportedly to avoid an Israeli competitor in the next round.
Joud Fahmy may have withdrawn from the match to avoid fighting 25-year-old five-time Israeli champion, Gili Cohen. Fahmy would have had to go up against Cohen if she won her first round, which could have put her in an uncomfortable position due to the conflict between Israelis and Arabs, the Times of Israel reported.
However, the Saudi Olympic delegation said Fahmy withdrew because of injuries she had sustained in training, not because Saudis do not recognize Israel as a nation.