Joud Fahmy, a Saudi Arabian judo athlete refused to participate in her first-round match at the Summer Olympics in Rio Sunday, reportedly to avoid an Israeli competitor in the next round.
It has been speculated that Fahmy may have withdrawn from the match to avoid fighting 25-year-old five-time Israeli, Gili Cohen. Fahmy would have had to go up against Cohen if she won her first round, which could have put her in an uncomfortable position due to the conflict between Israelis and Arabs, the Times of Israel reported.
However, the Saudi Olympic team tweeted that Fahmy had sustained injuries to her arm and leg during training and was advised by medical staff not to compete, Ynet news reported.
— Karen Sue-Anna (@Karensueann) August 10, 2016
Cohen went on to face Fahmy’s first-round opponent and lost to her in the second round.
The Times of Israel stated that Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, though an ex-Saudi general led a delegation to Jerusalem two weeks ago and met with Israeli officials and politicians, in the latest of a series of conciliatory moves.
Sunday’s controversy was not the first time that Israelis have had problems at the Olympics, which started Friday when the Lebanese team refused to allow members of the Israeli team on their bus because it conflicted with political interests.