Days of Palestine – Lebanon
Because of his refusal to recognize the Israeli occupation state, Lebanese athlete Abdullah Miniato has withdrawn from the international MMA (mixed martial arts) championship in Bulgaria to avoid challenging an Israeli opponent.
Mohamed al-Gharbi, the coach of the Lebanese mixed martial arts fighter, said he and Miniato decided to withdraw from the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Youth MMA World Championships, after a draw placed Miniato against an Israeli.
The Lebanese media said that the athlete “refuses to recognize Israel or practice any form of normalization” and therefore pulled out of the competition immediately upon learning who he would face.
The coach on his Facebook page defended the decision and said facing an Israeli in the contest would mean recognizing an entity that has “occupied our land and killed our children.”
Recently, the Algerian judoka and African champion, Fathi Noreen, had also withdrawn from the Olympic Games, to avoid confronting an Israeli player, and the same step was taken by the Sudanese judoka, Mohamed Abdul-Rasoul.
Historically, many athletes from Arab or Muslim nations have refrained from playing against Israelis in various sports.
However, Tahani al-Qahtani, a player for the Saudi judo team, suffered a humiliating defeat, in front of her Israeli competitor, Raz Hirschko. Qahtani was whitewashed by the Israeli player (0-11) in the match.
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Activists on social media already urged Qahtani to honorably withdraw from that confrontation in order to show her solidarity with the Palestinian people and her rejection of any form of normalization with Israel, but she did not respond in light of the official Saudi welcome of her participation in this fight.