Lebanese fighter withdraws from MMA contest to snub Israeli

Lebanese martial arts fighter withdraws from MMA contest to snub Israeli competitor
2 min read
01 August, 2021
Abdullah Miniato and his coach Muhammad Al-Gharbi said they will pull out from the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Youth MMA World Championships after a draw placed Miniato against an Israeli opponent, Lebanese media reports said.
The competition is being held this weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria [Getty]

A Lebanese mixed martial arts fighter announced on Saturday that he will withdraw from an upcoming championship in Bulgaria in protest of facing an Israeli opponent, according to local media reports.

Abdullah Miniato and his coach Muhammad Al-Gharbi said they will pull out from the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Youth MMA World Championships after a draw placed Miniato against an Israeli opponent, Lebanese media reports said.

The player "refuses to recognise or practice any form of normalisation" with the Isreali state, choosing to withdraw from the competition instead of competing with an Israeli, Lebanese media reports said.

The competition, which is for youths between the ages of 12-18, is being held this weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria. Seven Israeli athletes are registered, according to the event's organisers. Eight are from Lebanon, including Miniato.

There was no immediate statement from the IMMAF over his withdrawal.

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

At the Olympics in Tokyo this 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 on Monday, despite his country recently normalising with Tel Aviv 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judoka Fethi Nourine and his coach Amar Benikhlef who refused to fight Butbul, and saw their Olympic accreditation withdrawn as a result.

At the 2016 games, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shahaby quit the sport, just hours after refusing to shake the hand of his Israeli rival Or Sasson in the first round of the men’s over-100kg competition at the Rio Olympics.