Tokyo Olympics: IOC 'concerned' by judo withdrawals after Israeli was left without an opponent

By Sports Desk July 27, 2021

Olympic chiefs have declared any "flagrant abuses" of Games principles will be dealt with firmly after an Israeli judoka was controversially left without a round-of-32 opponent.

Algerian Fethi Nourine was suspended by the International Judo Federation on Saturday and ordered to leave Tokyo after pulling out of the men's 73kg event to avoid Israel's Tohar Butbul.

Nourine had been due to face Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool in an eliminator for the right to face Butbul but abandoned his Tokyo 2020 mission, citing political support for the Palestinian cause.

Abdalrasool, handed a bye through to a match against Butbul on Monday, then also failed to compete. No reason has been forthcoming for his absence, although it was confirmed he weighed in for the event.

Butbul was waved through to the next round and went on to finish seventh overall in the competition.

Speaking in a media briefing on Tuesday, International Olympic Committee director of solidarity James Macleod said: "Obviously the IOC is always concerned in these cases and is monitoring it very closely.

"If there are flagrant abuses of the Olympic charter, the IOC will take all necessary measures in that respect.

"The IOC is looking at every case that's brought to us. We will investigate every case that's brought to us, even from third parties.

"The IOC has been very clear that non-discrimination, autonomy, all these principles in the Olympic charter, are things we will not flinch from and we will adopt a strict position on all of those."

Within its list of fundamental principles, the Olympic charter says there can be no place for "discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status".

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