Jan 23, 2022 07:28 UTC
  • In new snub to Israel, Kuwaiti tennis player refuses to face Israeli player in UAE tournament

A Kuwaiti tennis player has withdrawn from a tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to avoid facing an Israeli counterpart, in what has been seen as a new snub for the regime following similar measures taken by a host of Muslim players from across the Islamic world.

According to Palestine’s official Wafa news agency, Kuwait’s tennis player Muhammad al-Awadi withdrew from an international tennis tournament in the UAE after he was told he was going to face an Israeli player in the semifinals.

Al-Awadi’s measure drew widespread praise on the social media. He had taken part in the international professional championship for competitors under the age of 14, which was held in Dubai.

Kuwaiti media reported that al-Awadi succeeded in winning his first matches and advanced to the semifinals. However, as soon as he was told that he was going to face the Israeli player, al-Awadi decided to withdraw and not to play against him.

Yusuf al-Sanad, a member of the Persian Gulf Scholars Union, wrote on Twitter that the Kuwaiti tennis player’s decision was taken in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in rejection of Israeli apartheid regime.

Osama al-Shaheen, a member of Kuwait’s parliament also tweeted, “Greetings and thanks to the Kuwaiti hero Muhammad al-Awadi for his refusal to normalize sports competition with the Zionists.”

The new development comes following a string of withdrawals and rejections by Muslim sportsmen from various Islamic countries who have refused to face Israeli counterparts in various sports events.

In July 2021, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the 2020 Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo, after the draw set him on course for a possible showdown against an Israeli opponent.

Nourine took the measure after he was drawn earlier in the day to face Israeli competitor Tohar Butbul in the second round of the under-73kg men’s judo competition, if he were to advance past his first fight.

Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible for him to compete against an Israeli opponent.