The Olympics are not just an event that hosts all kinds of sports and brings forth some of the best athletes in the world, but it is also an event that brings together multifarious cultures, putting aside religion, race and any other personal classifications – with the exception of nationality – for the sake of a larger purpose of unity under the name of sportsmanship. So what reactions are triggered when two representatives from two separate countries and cultures, that have an extremely sensitive relationship, meet?
One of the most sensitive political and social relationships in our world today is the one between Israel and the Arab World due to apparent reasons. A few days ago we paid witness to the Lebanese Team – representing Lebanon at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil – refusing to travel on the same bus as the Israeli athletes. Today, however, we are seeing Egyptian Judoka Islam El Shehaby refusing to withdraw from his match against Israeli Judoka, Or Sasson, which is scheduled to take place on Friday the 12th later this week. Earlier this week, Egyptians took to Social Media with their reactions. Throughout the spectrum of reactions – those with and against El Shehaby’s decision, the Israeli athlete was constantly referred to as a “Zionist Creature” among other phrases and words.
“Egyptian Judoka Islam El Shehaby refusing to withdraw from his match against Israeli Judoka, Or Sasson, which is scheduled to take place on Friday the 12th later this week”
Khaled Abdel Aziz, the Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports told CNN, “given that we agreed to play under the Olympic flag, we must accept competing with everyone, regardless of anything”, in support to El Shehaby’s decision. On the same note, people are supporting El Shehaby’s decision on Twitter and Facebook, calling for him to go in there and beat the Israeli athlete in the match.
“On Friday at 3 pm in the afternoon Islam El Shehaby who ranks 25th in the world, will play against the Israeli player who ranks 5th in the world at the Rio2016 Olympics. I support Islam El Shehaby”
“Islam El Shehaby will play a guy from Israel…after many years of training, awaiting a medal at the Olympics, which is considered any athlete’s dream:
88% He plays and we allow for normalization
12% He withdraws and wastes his efforts”
*470 Votes total*
“The match between Islam El Shehaby and the Zionist creature will be this Friday, by the will of God, at 3pm in the afternoon. I want you to eat him, Islam. Please support Islam, everyone. #support_your_country #gym_egypt”
On the other hand, other Egyptians are asking him through Social Media to withdraw from the match under the Arabic hashtag “#?????_??_?????”, which translates to “withdraw_Islam”.
“This coming Friday will be the Judo match at the Olympics between Egyptian Islam El Shehaby and the player from the Zionist Existence, a piece of advice: #withdraw_Islam”
“Islam, withdraw from the competition. If you win, you won’t have offered us anything, and if you loose, you’ll be putting people down more and adding onto their sorrows. It’s a hard decision, however it’ll be better than normalizing the killers of our people.”
“#withdraw_Islam , there is supposed to be a Judo match at the Olympics between Egyptian player Islam El Shehaby and a player from the Zionist existence, and this applies as apparent normalization and the confession of their existence. So I call on you to withdraw, Islam, this is more honorable for you than beating him. #withdraw_Islam”
If all reactions portray one common factor, it is that the Israeli player is disliked within the attracted reactions of both ends. Friday’s match is one that will be widely awaited, and is anticipated to trigger another chain of social media reactions.