An amateur MMA fighter from Lebanon recently pulled out of a major international tournament, reportedly due to being matched up with an opponent from Israel.
Lebanese competitor Charbel Abou Daher was a participant in the 2022 Youth IMMAF Championships, which took place in Abu Dhabi from August 17 to August 20.
The tournament’s draw resulted in him being paired with Israeli competitor Yonatan Mak in the 48 kg weight class, a matchup which reportedly prompted Daher’s withdrawal from the competition.
Daher’s decision to withdraw from the tournament was acknowledged by the Lebanese IMMAF in a story on Instagram, which cited his decision as being for “patriotic reasons.” Lebanese politician Sayyed Nasrallah has also openly praised the MMA fighter’s decision to not compete following the results of the draw.
Withdrawal Possibly Part Of Recent Trend
If Daher’s decision was in fact motivated by his opponent’s nationality, it would not be the only recent example of athletes from a variety of sports making efforts to avoid facing Israeli competition.
The report from Jewish News Syndicate regarding Daher’s withdrawal also notes that a pair of Iraqi tennis players pulled out of the 2022 Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament earlier this month after being matched up against Israeli competitors.
Additionally, a Jordanian Taekwondo athlete reached the finals of a recent tournament only to withdraw when his opponent in the finals was from Israel.
In July, 28-year-old Jiu-Jitsu brown belt Hamid Amraei withdrew from the AJP Tour Fujairah International Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi. Although Amraei did not publically comment on the reasoning for his withdrawal, it was reportedly due to an opponent switch that matched him with an Israeli athlete
While neither Daher or Amraei have specified reasons for their respective withdrawals, several athletes from Islamic countries openly refused to participate in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to avoid facing Israeli competitors.
What’s your reaction to the news that a Lebanese fighter reportedly pulled out of the Youth IMMAF World Championships due to being matched with an Israeli opponent?