Throughout the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Israeli athletes have encountered stark anti-Semitism.
After losing a judo match on Friday, Islam el-Shehaby, a fighter from Egypt, refused to shake his Israeli opponent’s hand — a major breach of judo etiquette. After beating him handily, Israeli fighter Or Sasson extended his hand to el-Shehaby. In response, the Egyptian fighter backed away, refusing to reciprocate the gesture.
El-Shehaby was reportedly under pressure from Islamic groups and Egyptian nationalists to drop out of the match with Sasson. The day before the match, a TV host for an Islamist-leaning network pressured el-Shehaby to refuse to fight Sasson, the Daily Mail reports.
“My son watch out, don’t be fooled, or fool yourself thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy,” the host said. “Egypt will cry. Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.”
The incident between the two fighters is only the latest anti-Semitic action Israeli athletes have faced in Rio.
In an Olympic qualifying match, Ala Ghasoun, a boxer from Syria, refused to fight an Israeli athlete. Ghasoun said competing with an athlete from Israel “would mean that I, as an athlete, and Syria, as a state, recognize the state of Israel.”
Earlier this week, another judo fighter reportedly forfeited a match so as not to face an Israeli athlete in a later round. Saudi Arabian officials tweeted out that judo fighter Joud Fahmy dropped out of a preliminary round due to an injury sustained during training, but multiple media outlets reported later that she was not injured.
Women in Saudi Arabia are heavily restricted from athletic activities. In 2009 and 2010, Saudi officials shuttered women-only gyms. Women are also barred from virtually all sporting arenas.
Last week, the head of the Lebanese Olympic delegation refused to let Israeli athletes board a bus the two countries were supposed to share en route to the opening ceremonies, The Washington Times reports. Olympic organizers had to send a separate bus to transport the stranded Israeli athletes so they could get to the games.
Just before the start of the games, media outlets pushed a sob story about Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash, claiming she was unable to use an Olympic-sized pool for training.
“There is no Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Palestinian territories that Palestinians are allowed to use, so Atrash practices at the YMCA in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem,” Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. “The pool is 25 meters long, half the length of the facility she’ll compete in at Rio.”
In a Facebook post, Israeli officials called out Atrash, saying she refused to apply for a permit to travel to Jerusalem to use their facilities. Liel Liebovitz of Tablet Magazine pointed out that there are several full-sized pools within the Palestinian territories she could have used as well.