‘Making History’ – First Palestinian to Qualify for Olympics in Combat Sport

Omar Yaser Ismail is the first Palestinian to qualify for Olympics in combat sport (Photo: via Ismail IG Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Ismail is one of three Palestinians who competed in the qualifying event having entered the men’s -58kg class ranked fifth.

Omar Yaser Ismail has made history as the first Palestinian taekwondo player to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Ismail qualified by winning an Asian Qualification Tournament in China on Saturday.

His achievement marks the first time “any Palestinian has qualified directly in any Olympic combat sport,” according to the World Taekwondo website.

Ismail is one of three Palestinians who competed in the qualifying event having entered the men’s -58kg class ranked fifth.

“Making history; first Palestinian taekwondo player to ever be qualified for the Olympics. Very proud and happy to say I made it this far,” Ismail said in an Instagram post. “All thanks to my amazing coach and the Palestinian federation for being the best support system anyone can have. A chance of a life time indeed; and now one step closer to an Olympic medal.”


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A three-time Arab champion, he has also won bronze twice at the World Championship, and silver once at the Asian Championship.

At previous events, Ismail has proudly displayed the Palestinian flag from the winning podium.

His win has been widely celebrated on social media with one user saying “Thanks for giving me/us a reason to watch (the Olympic Games).”  Another saying: “This makes me wonder how much of a talent pool have the Palestinians lost in the form of artists, academics, sportspeople, music and so on. Hope Omar shines with the gold.”

Sportspeople Targeted

In January, Hani al-Masdar, the coach of the Palestinian Olympic football team, was killed in an airstrike in Gaza City.

The Palestinian Football Association mourned Masdar, known in the Palestinian sports community as Abu al-Abed, in a Facebook post saying: “Abu al-Abed rose (to martyrdom – PC) due to the occupation aggression on the Gaza Strip for the third month, joining the constellation of football martyrs and martyrs of the Palestinian sports movement.”

According to the Palestinian Association, more than “1,000 members of the youth, sports and scouting movement” have been killed so far in the Israeli genocidal war on Gaza, which began on October 7.

The head of the Association accused Israel of “targeting sports facilities and the headquarters of the Palestinian sports and clubs.”

Rising Death Toll

To date, 31,726 Palestinians have been killed, and 73,792 wounded in Israel’s ongoing attack on Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the enclave.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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