Kuwaiti tennis player withdraws from UAE tournament, snubbing Israeli opponent

Kuwaiti tennis player withdraws from UAE tournament, snubbing Israeli opponent
2 min read
24 January, 2022
Muhammad Al-Awadi was set to take part in the semi-finals of the international professional championship for competitors aged under-14, which was held in Dubai.

The Kuwaiti player had reached the semi-finals when he withdrew [Getty]

A Kuwaiti tennis player has received widespread praise after withdrawing from a tournament in the UAE to avoid playing an Israeli opponent, Kuwaiti media reported.

Muhammad al-Awadi, 14, was set to take part in the semi-finals of the international professional championship for young competitors, which was held in Dubai.

Awadi received praise for his stance on social media platforms after Kuwaiti media reported that he reached the semi-finals but withdrew as soon as he found out he would face an Israeli player.

Kuwaiti MP Osama Al-Shaheen commended Awadi's stance, tweeting: "Greetings and thanks to the Kuwaiti hero Muhammad al-Awadi for his refusal to normalise sports competitions with Zionists."

Others also took to Twitter to praise the young player.

"The Kuwaiti and Gulf campion Muhammad Al-Awadi withdraws from playing a representative from [Israel] in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are still being terrorised, imprisoned, their homes demolished and are being killed by [Israel]," Yusuf al-Sanad, a member of the Persian Gulf of Scholars Union said on Twitter.

Many athletes have previously boycotted games in refusal to play against Israelis, in protest of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and crimes committed against Palestinians.

At the Olympics in Tokyo last year, two judokas forfeited their matches after they were set to face Israeli opponents.

Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool refused to fight Israel’s Tohar Butbul, despite his country recently normalising ties with Israel in a controversial agreement slammed by much of the Sudanese nation and wider Arab world.

The move followed Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef who refused to fight Butbul, and saw their Olympic accreditation withdrawn as a result.

Kuwait maintains a strong stance against the normalisation of relations with Israel.

Last year, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill banning Kuwaiti nationals and expat residents from visiting Israel. The law also outlawed expressions of sympathy for Israel.