Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby booed after refusing to shake Israeli opponent’s hand

Summer Olympics 2021 Tokyo
Courtesy of John David Mercer, USA Today Sports

Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby wouldn’t have anything to do with shaking the hand of Or Sasson, the Israeli opponent who beat him on Friday.


As noted by the Associated Press, this was “a major breach of judo etiquette,” and he was booed roundly by the crowd.

El Shehaby was defeated by Sasson after the Israeli successfully threw him twice in their first-round matchup.

After refusing to shake his hand, the Egyptian was instructed by the referee to bow, which is mandatory. El Shahaby didn’t quite manage a bow but did reportedly nod his head after being pressed.

Still, the International Judo Federation chalks this up as a win.

“This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to (fight) Israel,” spokesman Nicolas Messner said in an email, via the AP.

Indeed, that El Shehaby agreed to fight Sasson is a big deal. He was urged by Egyptian TV host Mataz Matar to forfeit the match, rather than fight Sasson.

While it is clear relations between the two nations still has a long way to go, this is a sign of progress that shouldn’t be discounted.