…Rio 2016: S’Arabia, Lebanese athletes avoid Isreal counterparts

…Egypt athlete waive at S’Arabia flag

By Ade Kunle with agencies reports

THOUGH, Olympics sports competition is expected to unite countries of the world. Recent occurrences during the competition have proven contrary. Among the recent cases is the shunning of Isreal athletes by Lebanese and Saudi Arabia athletes.

At the ongoing Olympics competition, Olympic Saudi Arabian judo fighter Joud Fahmy withdrew from her first round match in Rio, foreseeing a clash with an Israeli opponent in the next round, according to the Times of Israel.

Hebrew media surmises Fahmy’s move was an effort to avoid fighting an Israeli in the midst of political turmoil back home.

Yet, the Saudi Olympic team said her decision to exit the competition was due to injuries she sustained in training, so they tweeted.

iWitness NG gathered that four women and nine men are representing Saudi Arabia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In the end, Legentil advanced from the initial round of 32 by default after Fahmy’s withdrawal, moving into the round of 16 to face Cohen, who she beat.

The Israeli Olympic team also had an incident with the Lebanese athletes during the opening ceremony on Friday.

When both teams were told to share a bus, the Lebanese players refused, resulting in Israel riding in a separate bus to the festivities.

The Olympics are supposed to be a unifying and joyous event – two weeks to put politics on hold as we honor the world’s most inspiring athletes.

Regardless of the explanation for why Fahmy withdrew her name from competition, the optics are unfortunate.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize the State of Israel, but a Saudi delegation traveled to Jerusalem in July to meet with Israeli officials, in a sign of warming ties between the two countries.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war since the 2006 conflict between Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and the Israeli military.

According to The Times of Israel, the head of Lebanon’s delegation, Saleem a-Haj Nacoula, said that the Israeli members of the delegation were “looking for trouble” in their insistence of getting on the same bus.

Isreal is believed to be the tormentor of troubles against Palestine. The war waged against Palestinian people have resulted to the loss of thousands of lives. Thus, many see Isreal as an oppressor-country fighting for a wrong cause.

The uproar that enveloped the air after Google ‘Removes Palestine’ from Google Maps still continues as more than 150,000 people have signed a petition in anger at Google’s decision to “erase Palestine” from Google Maps.

Users using Google Maps who type in Palestine no longer see the name appearing on Google Maps. Instead, an outline of the Palestinian territories appears, with Israel clearly labeled.

Though Google removed Palestine from Google Maps several weeks ago, the issue only came to light after the Palestinian Journalists’ Forum (PJF) started an online campaign calling for the reinstatement of Palestine.

“This is part of the Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come and abolish Palestine once and for all,” said the PJF, adding that it is an attempt to change history.

Responding to the criticism, which has been voiced through hashtags such as #PalestineIsHere and #BoycottGoogle, a Google spokesperson reportedly told Quartz that the decision is aimed at featuring regions “objectively.”

Google has not responded to the campaign and the lack of Palestine on the map persists despite the State of Palestine being recognized by 136 United Nations member states.

Sports analysts, however, view the reactions of Lebanese and Saudi Arabia athletes may not be successful unrelated to the earlier action of an Egyptian athlete, Hamada Talat, who sparked outrage after waving the Saudi Arabian flag during the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last Friday.

On Twitter, #رجعوا_حماده (#Bring_Back_Hamada) quickly became a top-trending hashtag, with hundreds of users calling for Talat’s withdrawal from the highly anticipated tournament.

“#Bring_Back_Hamada as he does not know the value and magnitude and stature and history and culture of #Egypt,” one user tweeted.

“This is not an individual case but is an atmosphere of hypocrisy [and] cheapness,” prominent human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said, posting a picture of Talat at the opening ceremony alongside one of an Egyptian woman who gained infamy for waving the Saudi flag at a demonstration to show support for Egypt’s government earlier this year.

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