Islam El Shehaby was sent home after he refused to shake his opponent’s hand. On Friday, Egyptian judoka El Shehaby faced Or Sasson from Israel, and he lost the match.
When Mr. Sasson approached Mr. El Shehaby to shake his hand, he did the strangest of things – he took several steps back attempting to flee the mat. Sasson, who was determined to make sure the match ended well, tried to give El Shehaby what appeared to be a high five and that also failed.
The Muslim athlete also refused to bow to his adversary. The crowd could be heard booing the Egyptian man for his action. The International Olympic Committee severely reprimanded the athlete, and he was sent home by his team. The IOC said in a statement:
“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.”
It went on to say:
“The IOC issued a severe reprimand and 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.”
Upon arriving in Egypt, El Shehaby defended his actions. He said:
“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.”
Egypt’s judo federation also came in defense of their star by more or less saying that he was not punished, he simply came back home. Spokesman Sameh Moubasher said:
“He returned with his colleagues. The whole team judo team returned yesterday.”
El Shehaby, an ultraconservative Salafi Muslim, was pushed by Islamists not to participate in the match because losing would bring shame to Islam and Egypt. While the rest of the world was surprised by El Shehaby’s gesture, Sasson was not.
He revealed to reporters that his coaches had warned him that El Shehaby might refuse to shake his hand.
— Jean-Paul Ney (@jpney) August 13, 2016
Fair play to Islam el shehaby for not shaking that dirty isreali's hands after the match
— Ahmed (@ahmed_hamed11) August 12, 2016
Shameful behavior by Egypt, especially given this is a martial arts competition where respect is everything. https://t.co/zIfV5QIe6U
— jason (@Jason) August 13, 2016
— Zionist Federation (@ZionistFed) August 12, 2016
— Jean-Paul Ney (@jpney) August 12, 2016