Sudanese judoka is 2nd to drop out and not face Israeli in Olympics

Despite Israeli-Sudanese normalization of ties, Mohamed Abdalrasool did not show up for the competition, automatically giving Tohar Butbul the win.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Sudanese judoka did not appear for his Olympic bout with his Israeli counterpart in the 73kg. division Monday, despite his country’s recent normalization of relations with the Jewish state.

Mohamed Abdalrasool weighed in for the competition but then failed to show up to fight world No. 7 Tohar Butbul, automatically catapulting Israel’s Butbul into the next round. Neither Sudanese Olympic officials nor the International Judo Federation (IJF) commented immediately on the reason for Abdalrasool’s disappearance.

He is the second Olympic player to drop out because he did not want to compete against Butbul. Algeria’s Fethi Nourine was suspended by the IJF on Saturday when he withdrew after the draw of entrants showed that he would face the Israeli if he beat his next opponent. Ironically, the judoka he was to face first was Abdalrasool, so no matter who would have won their bout, Butbul would have received a guaranteed win and kept his Olympic hopes alive.

While Nourine, whose country has no diplomatic relations with Israel, said his support for the Palestinian cause led to his decision, Sudan, on the other hand, joined the Abraham Accords last October.

Sudan’s decision to following in the footsteps of the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in reestablishing ties with the Jewish state was not without its opponents in the Sudanese government, which is a combined military-civilian group put in place after longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed in 2019. It was only in April that its cabinet voted to annul the country’s official boycott of Israel that had been in place since 1958.

The U.S. promise to remove Sudan from its list of state supporters of terrorism played a large role in bringing Khartoum to the table with Israel.

Butbul, who had received a first-round bye due to his vaunted world standing, finally got to compete when he was matched against Victor Sterpu of Moldavia. He defeated the 2020 European Judo champion to reach the quarter-finals, but then fell against the former world champion, South Korean Chang-rim An, in an epic battle that lasted more than eight minutes.

Butbul then lost in the repechage round to Arthur Margelidon of Canada. Judo is the only sport where two bronze medals are awarded in each weight class, one to the third-place competitor, and one to the winner of the consolation rounds against the other losers of the quarter-finals.