Egyptian athlete's defeat of Israeli opponent in fencing bout sparks outrage in Cairo

Egyptian athlete's defeat of Israeli opponent in fencing bout sparks outrage in Cairo
Ahmed El-Sayed beat his Israeli counterpart in a fencing match during the World Championships in Cairo, however, activists online say he should have withdrawn from the competition.
2 min read
18 July, 2022
Several activists online felt that the Egyptian fencer should've withdrawn from the match against his Israeli counterpart [Getty]

An Egyptian's defeat of his Israeli opponent in a fencing qualifying match for the World Championships in Cairo over the weekend sparked outrage online with some activists saying he should have boycotted the bout.

Ahmed El-Sayed beat his opponent 15-12 on Saturday, in a match that saw him progress to the 64th round of the competition held in the Egyptian capital from 15 July, and expected to end on the 23rd.

In videos shared online, the Egyptian fencer is seen reluctantly shaking the hand of his counterpart but does not make eye contact as he celebrates his win.

Following the Egyptian fencer's victory, activists took to social media to express disappointment that an Arab athlete chose to compete against an Israeli.

While Israel and Egypt share diplomatic relations, there have been calls among Palestinian activists for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Many athletes from countries that have normalised relations with Israel, such as Jordan, have refused to compete against Israeli counterparts.

Some social media users said that competing against an Israeli athlete plays into normalisation.

One user, Ahmed, said: "With all due respect, this isn’t a victory. This is a game… this is normalisation," while another user said that withdrawing from the game would have "made Egyptian hearts happier".

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, judoka Islam El-Shehaby refused to bow to Israeli Or Sasson following their match, prompting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reprimand him and sent the athlete home.

Another Egyptian judoka, Ramadan Darwish, also refused to shake hands with an Israeli competitor during the same Olympics.

Also in the same year, the Egyptian Football Association rejected a request to play a friendly match against the Israeli national team.

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Egypt and Israel signed a US-brokered peace treaty in 1979, paving the way for established relations between the two countries, however, support for the Palestinian cause dominates public opinion.

In recent years, ties between the two countries have grown, with flights between locations in both countries taking place, as well the signing of increased economic and security deals.

This has coincided with a UAE-led push for normalisation among Arab states with Israel.