An Egyptian competitor refused to shake the hand of the Israeli athlete who bested him Wednesday at the Judo World Championships.
Video of the aftermath of the match in which Israel’s Sagi Muki defeated Egyptian Mohamed Abdelaal shows the two men standing on the mat, ready for the traditional handshake at the end of the match.
After the referee called the two men to shake hands, Muki advanced with his hand outstretched, but Abdelaal simply turned and walked away, leaving Muki with his hand outstretched and a disgusted look upon his face as the insult.
The incident caused a flurry of comments between the two nations, according to Haaretz.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “sports needs to be kept separate from politics.”
Egyptian Judo Federation Vice President Marzouk Ali defended Abdelaal.
“There was injustice behind Abdelaal’s loss. The Israeli should have lost, which didn’t happen, and the Egyptian judoka therefore didn’t shake his hand,” Ali said.
Muki said he regretted the incident took place.
“I’m very saddened by this situation. … I hope one day we will see the sport connecting each other,” he said.
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) August 29, 2019
The Israeli embassy in Cairo sent a tweet in Arabic.
“After 40 years of peace and innumerable handshakes, Sagi Muki extended his hand to Mohamed Abdelaal after beating him in the world championship semifinals, in a sportsmanlike spirit,” it said.
Ofir Gendelman, who serves as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman to Arab media outlets, sent a tweet that read, “There is peace between the two countries. The refusal of the Egyptian to [Muki’s] handshake is nothing but an insult to Egypt’s reputation in world sports,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Muki later won the gold medal at the event, marking a first for Israel’s judo athletes.
The Iranian Judoka refused to compete against him & the Egyptian refused to shake his hand, but #Israel‘s #SagiMuki had the best response – winning GOLD at the #JudoWorlds2019, becoming 1st male Israeli world champion!
Mazal Tov Sagi! All of Israel is so proud of you! ???? pic.twitter.com/CKIC7xmieN
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) August 28, 2019
Netanyahu congratulated Muki on Twitter.
“World champion!” he wrote. “Wonderful Sagi Muki — bringing a lot of respect and pride to all of us.”
אלוף עולם! אחלה שגיא מוקי – הבאת הרבה כבוד וגאווה לכולנו ??? pic.twitter.com/RpxOKis0ia
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 28, 2019
“You’ve proven what I always say, that thanks to talented wonderful people such as yourself we turned Israel into a judo powerhouse,” Netanyahu later said to Muki, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Muki thanked Netanyahu and said it was a “privilege to represent Israel.”
“Many Israelis came here [to Tokyo],” he said, “which gives [the athletes] a lot of strength.”
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