An amateur mixed martial artist from Lebanon recently withdrew from a major international competition, allegedly because he was paired with an Israeli opponent.
Charbel Abou Daher is an aspiring mixed martial artist from Lebanon. He competed in the 2022 Youth IMMAF Championships, which were held in Abu Dhabi from August 17 to August 20.
He was matched with Israeli rival Yonatan Mak in the 48 kg weight division of the event due to randm draw. This allegedly led Daher to withdraw from the contest.
Lebanese politician Sayyed Nasrallah has publicly welcomed the MMA amateur’s choice to not participate after the results of the draw. The Lebanese IMMAF accepted Daher’s decision to withdraw from the competition in a post on Instagram, citing his decision as being made for “patriotic reasons.”
If Daher’s choice was indeed influenced by his opponent’s country, it wouldn’t be the first time. There’s a long history of Middle eastern Judokas refusing to compete against them.
In addition to these cases, a pair of Iraqi tennis players withdrew from the 2022 Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament earlier this month after being paired alongside Israeli opponents. This is according to Jewish News Syndicate who also covered the story on Daher’s resignation.
In addition, a Jordanian Taekwondo competitor recently withdrew after making it to the finals of the competition because his final opponent was an Israeli.
Jiu-Jitsu brown belt Hamid Amraei pulled out of the AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi in July. Amraei did not publicly address the reason for his withdrawal. However, it was apparently because of a swap of opponents that put him up against an Israeli athlete.
Neither Daher nor Amraei has given specific justifications for their separate withdrawals.