Two Iraqi wheelchair tennis players have withdrawn from an international tournament in Romania to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent.
Nasr Mahdi and Mohammad Al-Mahdi have refused to face the Israeli player in the Bucharest Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament 2022, Iraqi Tennis Federation President Majid Al-Ugaili announced yesterday.
Wheelchair tennis is played the same as able-bodied tennis, with the only exception that a wheelchair tennis player is allowed two ball bounces.
The tournament, which starts on August 15, is part of the “Performance has no limits!” platform and is the result of a partnership between the Licinium Foundation and the International Tennis Federation.
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Israel is often accused of using its presence in international sporting and cultural events as a way to “cleanse sport” of its human rights violations. Other Arab athletes have taken a public stand against normalizing relations with the occupation state under the guise of sports diplomacy.
Earlier this year, 14-year-old Kuwaiti tennis player Muhammad Al-Awadi withdrew from the Dubai Tennis Championships after having to face an Israeli player.
Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine has withdrawn from the men’s 73kg event at the Tokyo Olympics after finding out he would have to face Israeli fighter Tohar Butbul in the second round.
Iraq has no diplomatic or other relations with Israel. Most of its political factions reject normalization with the occupation state.