Here’s a prime example of everything the Olympics doesn’t represent.
Israel’s Or Sasson squared off on Friday against Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby in judo at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Sasson ended up with the victory but when it came time to shake hands in the spirit of competition, El Shehaby refused.
El Shehaby also refused to bow to Sasson, which is required in judo when a match is finished. Instead, El Shehaby walked around aimlessly before slightly nodding his head to his opponent.
It’s unclear what El Shehaby’s exact motivation was by choosing to ignore his opponent, but his actions go against everything the Olympics stands for. Losing sucks, but to blatantly disrespect your opponent because of it, is shameful. El Shehaby embarrassed himself and the nation he represents.
According to the LA Times, El Shehaby had been pressured by nationalists in Egypt to withdraw from the fight altogether. Perhaps his non-handshake was meant to appease them even in defeat.
Sasson handled El Shehaby’s ignorance perfectly. He attempted to shake his opponents hands and when he was refused, he just carried on normally. I’d imagine he was angered by the disrespect, but Sasson is at least mature enough to know the Olympics aren’t the time to throw a tantrum.
It’s a shame this happened, but kudos to Sasson for handling it like a pro. As for El Shehaby, enjoy the L.