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Algerian judoka and coach suspended for 10 years over refusing to face Israeli settler

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has suspended the Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach from participating in any activities or competitions organised by the body for 10 years after refusing to face Israeli settler, Tohar Butbul, at Tokyo 2020.

Nourine was due to face Sudanese player Mohamed Abdalrasool, on 24 July, in his first match in the round of 64, and would have been paired with Israeli Tohar Butbul in the round of 32 in the men’s 73kg weight category.

However, four days before the match Nourine announced that he would be withdrawing from the event because his views and support to the Palestinian cause.

Nourine and his coach, Ammar Benikhlef, said that time that they were boycotting Butbul in support of the Palestinian cause.

At the time, the International Olympic Committee considered Nourine’s decision a “violation of the Olympic Charter regulations”.

The ruling takes effect from 23 July 2021.

After returning to Algeria in July, Nourine told reporters: “My coach and I took the decision together and I am proud of it. This decision honours me first, honours my family, and honours the Algerian people and the Algerian state, because President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared to the world that we do not consent to normalisation, and we support the Palestinian cause.”

He added, “I am glad I could vex the Zionist entity [Israel], and I received encouraging phone calls from the Arab and Islamic world.”

Nourine also had withdrawn from the World Championship in 2019 after he was unlucky in the lottery, being matched with an Israeli settler.

Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool, whom Nourine was due to face before Butbul, also withdrew from the Olympics before facing Butbul in their round of 32, despite weighing in for the bout, as a form of rejecting normalization with the occupation state.

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