Two Iraqi wheelchair tennis players have withdrawn from an international tournament held in Romania to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent.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