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Saudi athlete shows up to fight Israeli after other competitors refused to do the same

The International Judo Federation has praised a Saudi Arabian woman for competing against an Israeli foe at the Tokyo Olympics after two other athletes from Arab countries refused to do the same

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The International Judo Federation has praised a Saudi Arabian woman for competing against an Israeli foe at the Tokyo Olympics after two other athletes from Arab countries refused to do the same.

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Tahani Alqahtani faced Israel’s Raz Hershko in the women’s over-78 kg, division Friday and lost by ippon. Her participation was considered in doubt, but Saudi Arabian Olympic committee head and President Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al Saud confirmed she would take part in the bout.

The two judokas shook hands after Hershko’s victory.

“With what happened today at the Nippon Budokan, once again judko makes history and helps to build a better world, where respect is the core value of human relations,” the IJF said in a statement. “”Saudi Arabia proves that, through sport, we can go beyond differences and make sport a force to unite the world.”

Earlier this week, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and coach Amar Benikhlef quit the men’s under-73 kg competition over the prospect of facing Israeli Tohar Butbul in the second round. Nourine told a television station in his home country he would not get his “hands dirty”.

The IJF suspended both and the Algerian Olympic Committee sent them home.

Then, Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalarasool also bailed out rather than take on Butbul.

In April, the IJF suspended Iran for four years after the nation told Saeid Mollaei to skip a match against an Israeli opponent at the 2019 worlds. Mollaei defected to Mongolia and produced a silver medal in the 81 kg weight class.

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