Lebanese fighter withdraws from tournament to avoid Israeli opponent
A Lebanese mixed martial arts fighter pulled out of the 2022 Youth IMMAF World Championships in the United Arab Emirates to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.
According to Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese Arabic language news channel, Charbel Abou Daher was prompted to withdraw from the event after the 48kg draw placed him against Israel’s Yonatan Mak.
Daher’s withdrawal was acknowledged by Lebanon’s mixed martial arts federation, which stated in a story on Instagram that the decision was due to “patriotic reasons.”
The Lebanese fighter is the latest in a string of athletes determined to avoid facing Israeli opposition. In July, Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt Hamid Amraei withdrew from the Fujairah International Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi due to reportedly being matched up against an Israeli opponent. The following month, Jordanian taekwondo practitioner Maysir al-Dahamsheh withdrew from the finals of the 2022 Junior World Championships to protest the normalization of relations between some Arab countries and the Israeli government.
An Iraqi doubles duo also pulled out of the 2022 Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in August after being paired up against Israeli competitors.
Many of those who choose to boycott Israeli opposition in athletic competition do so in a display of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and to protest against the Israeli government’s discriminatory rule over Palestinians. In 2021, Human Rights Watch labeled Israel’s systemic mistreatment of Palestinians as “crimes of apartheid and persecution” while Amnesty International labeled Israel’s actions a “cruel system of domination.”