'Heroic' female Kuwaiti fencer withdraws from World Cup over Israeli opponent

'Heroic' female Kuwaiti fencer withdraws from World Cup over Israeli opponent
2 min read
23 May, 2022
Kholoud al-Mutairi garnered waves of support for her 'heroic' move in support of Palestine online after withdrawing from the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Cup 2022.
Al-Mutairi was hailed as a hero for her stance [Kuwait Paralympic Committee]

A female pro- Palestine Kuwaiti fencer has withdrawn from the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Cup 2022 in Thailand after she was due to face an Israeli opponent.

Kholoud Al-Mutairi pulled out of the event, which brought together more than 100 fencers from around the world, after a draw lined her up for a match with an Israeli fencer, attracting waves of support for her "heroic" move in support of Palestine.

"Kuwaiti player Kholoud Al-Mutairi pulled out of the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Cup in Thailand in order not to compete against a contestant from the Zionist entity," the Kuwait Paralympic Committee confirmed on its Twitter page on Sunday.

Last month, a similar move was taken by a Kuwaiti fencer in a group stage bout in the World Fencing Championships.

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Mohammad Al-Fadli was due to compete against an Israeli at the championships in Dubai but forfeited the match in an anti-normalisation stance.

Kuwaiti social media users have praised both athletes for rejecting normalisation and showing support for Palestinians - a cause that the Gulf state has taken a strong stance on.

"May God bless her. She's number 1 in our eyes," one Twitter user said.

"Heroine Kholoud," another user said, with another describing her as a "hero of morals".

In September 2019, Al-Fadli withdrew from an international tournament in Amsterdam after he was placed in a group with an Israeli player. Boycotting matches against Israeli opponents is a common practice for Kuwaiti athletes.

The UAE normalised relations with Israel in 2020, which led to Israeli participation in sports and cultural events in the Gulf state.

Israeli involvement is usually frowned upon by other Arab states and has been the cause of boycotts.

In February, Kuwaiti inventor Jenan Al-Shehab cancelled her appearance at the Dubai Expo 2020 in response to the exhibition holding an "Israel Day" pavilion.

Like most Arab countries, Kuwait has no diplomatic or commercial relations with Israel and has rigorously implemented a law boycotting Israeli goods.

The Gulf country prohibits Israeli passport holders from entering the country, and its citizens from visiting Israel and has laws in place to punish public expressions of sympathy for Israel.