Olympics: Was Egyptian Judoka punished for refusing to shake Israeli's hand?

Egypt's Islam El Shehaby, blue, declines to shake hands with Israel's Or Sasson, white, after losing during the men's over 100-kg judo competition at the Rio Olympic Games on Friday, August 12.

Story highlights

  • Islam El Shehaby lost to Or Sasson on Friday
  • Egyptian Judo Federation says El Shehaby won't be punished
  • IOC says he was "sent home"

(CNN)Was an Egyptian Judoka punished for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli athlete that defeated him?

At the moment, it depends on who you ask.
    Egypt's Islam El Shehaby lost to Or Sasson in the men's over 100-kg judo competition on Friday. Sasson would go on to win the bronze medal.
    El Shehaby than refused to shake Sasson's hand, after which the crowd could be heard booing.
    The International Judo Federation doesn't mandate that players shake hands after the match.
    International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said at a news conference last week that the incident would be looked into.
    "We believe that the Olympic movement is about building bridges and never about building walls," he said.
    Shehaby made the decision to not shake Sasson's hand himself, according to the Egyptian Olympic Committee's Facebook page.
    Egypt's Judo Federation told CNN that El Shehaby won't be reprimanded.
    "There is no punishment. Islam [El Shehaby] traveled back home with his team as scheduled," Sameh Mubasher, head of the Egyptian Judo Federation, told CNN.
    It's customary for athletes to go back home once they finish their competitions, he explained.
    The Egyptian Judo team arrived in Cairo on Monday afternoon.
    "[El Shehaby] didn't do anything wrong. He was polite," Mubasher said.
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    But in a statement emailed to CNN Monday, the IOC said it was told by Egypt's National Olympic Committee that El Shehaby was being sent home.
    "The Egyptian Olympic Committee has also strongly condemned the actions of Mr Islam El Shehaby and has sent him home. The President of the NOC [National Olympic Committee] issued a statement saying they respected all athletes and all nations at the Olympic Games," the statement said.
    When asked for clarification whether El Shehaby was being reprimanded by being sent home, the IOC told CNN it could "only reiterate that the Egyptian Olympic Committee has strongly condemned the actions of Mr Islam El Shehaby and said that the athlete would go home."
    The IOC Disciplinary Commission also issued a "severe reprimand for inappropriate behaviour" to El Shehaby.

    Israel's response

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Sasson's response to the incident when he called into an interview between the athlete and CNN affiliate Channel 2.
    "Every child in Israel and in the world who watched you saw not just a great sportsman, but also a man of values," he said. "You showed the real face of Israel, beautiful and proud ... there is yet a lot of work to do in order to change the horrible propaganda piled against us."
    Egypt and Israel have a particularly good diplomatic relationship, especially by Middle East standards.
    The two countries have a peace treaty and often coordinate on security issues.
    Israel re-opened its Egyptian embassy last year, and relations between the two states have rarely been better than they are now.
    The Egyptian public, however, tends to take a more hostile view of Israel than its leaders do, experts say and some Egyptian polling shows.

    Discrimination at the Games?

    It's not the first time international politics have affected Israel's Olympic athletes in Rio.
    Reports have surfaced that Lebanese athletes refused to let Israel's competitors share a bus with them to the opening ceremonies.
    After the Athens Games in 2004, Iran's government gave an Iranian Judo competitor a $125,00 reward after he said he sacrificed his chance at a gold medal by refusing to fight an Israeli at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
    But the most tragic incident occurred at the Munich Games in 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian terrorists.