Two years ago, Fethi Nourine of Algeria pulled out of the 2019 Judoka World Championships when his draw lined him up against Israeli Tohar Butbul.
History repeats itself, this time at the Tokyo Olympics.
The draw for the -73kg men's division potentially set up a matchup between the ninth-ranked Nourine and No. 6 Butbul in the second round. So Nourine, once again, withdrew from competition.
“We were not lucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision,” the Israeli Times quoted Nourine’s coach Amar Ben Yaklif, according to Algerian media reports.
Butbul will now face Mohamed Abdalrasool of Sudan in his first fight.
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This isn't the first time objections to facing Israeli athletes has caused controversy in international judo competition. The International Judo Federation instituted a four-year ban on Iran that will expire in 2023 after an Iranian judoka claimed he was forced to throw matches in order to not face Israeli judokas.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the International Olympic Committee sent Egyptian Islam El Shehaby home before the end of the Games for refusing to shake the hand of Israeli Or Sasson after Sasson, the eventual bronze medal winner, defeated Shehaby.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judo athlete withdraws from Olympics over possible bout vs. Israeli