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Second judoka quits Tokyo Olympics before facing Israeli opponent who Algerian refused to meet over Palestine conflict

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Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool weighed in but did not appear for his clash with Tohar Butbal in the round of 32 at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, leaving the Israeli without an opponent again after Fethi Nourine was sent home.

Algerian Nourine drew praise and criticism after refusing to take on Butbal, explaining that “the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this” before being suspended by the International Judo Foundation (IJF).

The federation has not immediately declared why Abdalrasool did not participate, and the Guardian said that the governing body and Sudanese Olympic officials had not provided an immediate comment on the situation.

Abdalrasool, who has a 73kg world ranking of 469, would have been a sizeable underdog against seventh-ranked Butbul, who also saw Nourine quit a bout against him at the 2019 world championships.

Abdalrasool was due to meet Butbal as a result of Nourine’s premature exit. “Sudanese athletes also won’t face Israelis,” speculated one sports writer.

Despite the nature of Abdalrasool’s withdrawal being unclear, he was swiftly savaged by some on social media, with Nourine also copping fury.

“Fethi Nourine and Mohamed Abdalrasool should be banned for life in every Judo association,” said one angry respondent. “Such blatant anti-semitism has no place in sports and should be severely punished.”

Others described Abdalrasool as “another coward”, with one writing: “I want to say that I can’t believe they hate Israel so much that they’re willing to ruin their entire career over competing fairly with an Israeli athlete, but anti-semitism is just like that, isn’t it?”

In a statement, the IJF said it had taken its decision to punish Nourine because it would not tolerate “discrimination” and wanted to foster the “respect and friendship” at the heart of its moral code.

Nourine said he had been motivated by a desire not to “get his hands dirty”, while his coach insisted the decision to pull out had been the right one.

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