Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has been banned from competition for 10 years by the International Judo Federation after his withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid a potential bout against an Israeli opponent.
Nourine’s coach, IJF Hall of Famer Amar Benikhlef, also received a 10-year ban.
Nourine withdrew from the Tokyo Games on the opening day after learning he could potentially face Olympic bronze medalist Tohar Butbul in the second round of men’s lightweight competition at the Budokan. Nourine and Benikhlef told Algerian media they quit to express support for Palestinians.
The Algerian Olympic committee withdrew both men’s accreditations and sent them home. After an investigation, the IJF issued a ban that effectively ends the competitive career of the 30-year-old Nourine, a three-time gold medalist in the African Judo Championships.
“It is evident that the two Algerian judoka, with malicious intent, have used the Olympic Games as a platform for protest and promotion of political and religious propaganda, which is a clear and serious breach of the IJF Statutes, the IJF Code of Ethics and the Olympic Charter,” the IJF said in a statement. “Therefore, no other penalty than a severe suspension can be imposed in this case.”