Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach were suspended by the International Judo Federation (IJF) for 10 years for withdrawing from the Tokyo Olympics when the key to the competition put the judoka on the way to a fight against an Israeli athlete.
The 30-year-old was expected to face Sudanese Mohamed Abdalrasool in his first fight in the 73-kg division, and a victory would make him face Israeli Tohar Butbul in the next round.
Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete with Butbul.
The Algerian Olympic Committee removed the credentials of the judoka and his coach, Amar Benikhlef, and sent them back home.
The IJF, which has temporarily suspended both, said the two used the Games “as a platform to protest and promote political and religious propaganda”, which violated its code of ethics and the Olympic Charter.
They are banned from all IJF events and activities until July 23, 2031, but may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the organization’s statement said.
The incident is not the first time Nourine has withdrawn from a competition to avoid facing an Israeli opponent – he withdrew from the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo for the same reason.
Tensions from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resurfaced this year when clashes in disputed Jerusalem sparked fighting across the border.