Mazen Chreim, a Lebanese runner has withdrawn from the 200 meter competition of the World Masters Athletics after he was placed in a group that included an Israeli runner.
Chreim left Beirut International Airport on Tuesday to participate in the World Athletics Masters Indoor Championships in Toruń, Poland from March 26 to April 1, 2023 in 200 m, 400 m and triple jump (age category 40-44 years).
On his Facebook account, he adopted the position of the Lebanese resistance leader Sheikh Ragheb Harb, who refused to shake hands/deal with Israel because it is considered as an occupying enemy.
“Shaking hands with the enemies means recognizing them,” Chreim wrote, announcing that he decided to withdraw from the competitions after contacting the Lebanese sports federation.
The athlete told al-Mayadeen TV channel his withdrawal from this championship is considered as “a victory”, pointing out that he is a supporter of the resistance front that does not recognize the Israeli regime and does not participate in any sports competition with the representatives of this regime.
This is not the first time the Lebanese and Arabs have showed solidarity with Palestine and complete rejection of the Israeli regime, whether as fans or athletes.
Israel and Lebanon have technically been at war for decades. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 during the latter’s civil war and occupied Lebanese territory until 2000. Israel's last military aggression against Lebanon was in the summer of 2006, and until today, it occupies some territory which belongs to Lebanon.
Last August, junior Lebanese chess champion Nadia Fawaz decided to quit the 28th edition of Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival in the United Arab Emirates to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.
Also around the same time, Iraqi tennis stars Nasr Mahdi and Mohammad al-Mahdi pulled out of the Bucharest Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament 2022 in Romania to avoid playing against Israeli competitors.
Back in July, the Palestinian Information Center reported that Jordanian taekwondo fighter Maysir al-Dahamsheh had shunned a face-off against an Israeli rival at the 2022 World Taekwondo Cadet & Junior Championships in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia.
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 consider the participation of Israeli athletes in sports events as a plot to help the Tel Aviv regime gradually normalize its relations with Muslim and Arab nations despite its decades-long occupation of Palestine and its relentless crimes against Palestinians.
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