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Kuwaiti athlete quits Karate 1-Premier League Baku to snub Israeli rival

Kuwaiti karate fighter Mohammad al-Otaibi (Photo via Twitter)

Kuwaiti karate fighter Mohammad al-Otaibi has withdrawn from the 2022 Karate 1-Premier League contests in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to avoid facing an Israeli contestant over his support for the Palestinian cause and refusal of normalization with the Tel Aviv regime.

Otaibi was set to participate in the male kumite 60-kilogram division of the international tournament. He, however, pulled out of the competitions as soon as he found out he was scheduled to take on Israeli competitor Ronen Gehtbarg.

Otaibi received praise on social media platforms for his stance.

The development comes as athletes from Muslim countries have repeatedly refused to compete against Israeli opponents at major international events to protest Israel’s crimes and occupation of Palestinian lands.

In April, Kuwaiti fencer Mohamed al-Fadli withdrew from the World Fencing Championships held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after he refused to play with an Israeli opponent.

Fadli also withdrew from an international tournament in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, in September 2019, after the draw placed him in a group competing with an Israeli player

Also in January, teenage Kuwaiti tennis player Muhammad al-Awadi quit an international tennis tournament in the UAE to avoid playing against an Israeli counterpart.

His stance earned widespread praise over support for the Palestinian cause, with pro-Palestine activists describing the move as “part of Kuwait’s supportive positions towards the Palestinian cause” and its opposition to normalizing ties with Israel.

According to Kuwaiti media outlets, Awadi emerged triumphant in his first matches at the Dubai Tennis Championships U-14 and advanced to the semifinal round.

However, he decided to pull out of the tournament as soon as he was told that he was going to face a representative from the Israeli regime

In May last year, Kuwait’s National Assembly unanimously approved bills that outlaw any deals or normalization of ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

On August 18, 2020, 37 Kuwaiti lawmakers called on their government to reject a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Anti-Israeli sentiments run high in Kuwait. A poll conducted in 2019 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an American think tank, showed that 85 percent of Kuwaitis oppose normalizing ties with Israel.

In recent years, an increasing number of athletes from Arab and Muslim countries have avoided facing Israeli opponents in international competitions in support of the Palestinian cause.

They view the participation of Israeli athletes in sports events as a scheme to help the Tel Aviv regime gradually normalize its relations with Muslim and Arab nations despite its brutal occupation of Palestine and its relentless crimes against Palestinians.

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