As an Israeli I am proud that Israeli judoka Or Sasson won a bronze medal in Rio. This was Israel’s second bronze in Rio, after Yarden Gerbi won third place in the women’s judo 63 kg weight class.
Sadly, the Olympic Spirit whose intent is “to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play” was overshadowed by distrust and hatred.
The Israeli judoka Or Sasson had been the subject of some political drama at the games when an Egyptian rival, Islam el-Shahabi, refused the ceremonial bow or to shake Sasson’s hand when the Israeli defeated him.
After Sasson’s faceoff with the Egyptian, Sasson extended his hand to el-Shahabi, but the Egyptian judoka refused the gesture and was booed by the audience.
During an earlier incident the Lebanese delegation physically barred Israeli athletes from boarding a bus the two teams were meant to take to the opening ceremony. Officials ended up organizing a separate bus ride for the Israeli delegation. Subsequently, the head of the Lebanese group, who physically blocked the Israeli athletes from boarding the shuttle, was later reprimanded by the International Olympics Committee.
During an official hearing on the incident, Lebanese delegation head Salim al-Naj Nakoula had said the incident was a misunderstanding. Speaking to a Lebanese newspaper however, Nakoula insisted that he had the right to prevent another team’s athletes from joining them on the transport reserved for them.
In my opinion such hostile behavior violates the spirit and ideas of the Olympic Games. Those athletes and their official representatives should be barred from participating in the Olympic Games because they reject the ideals of peace, mutual understanding and friendship.