Kuwait player refuses to face Israeli opponent in Dubai fencing contest

Kuwait player refuses to face Israeli opponent in Dubai fencing contest
Mohammad Al-Fadli backed out of the group stages of the World Fencing Championships in Dubai when he was paired with an Israeli.
2 min read
04 April, 2022
The World Fencing Championships are taking place in Dubai [Getty]

A Kuwaiti fencer has refused to face his Israeli opponent in the group stage of the World Fencing Championships.

Mohammad Al-Fadli was on Saturday due to compete with his Israeli counterpart at the championships in Dubai but forfeited in an anti-normalisation stance.

Kuwaiti social media users praised him for rejecting normalisation in a show of support for Palestine - a cause that the Gulf country has taken a strong stance on.

"A billion blessings to the Kuwaiti champion, Mohammad Al-Fadli", wrote one Twitter user said.

"At a time in which the conflict escalates inside Palestine, and the issue is deliberately neglected in the media, boycotts in sports is a huge reminder of Palestinian rights," said another.

In September 2019, Al-Fadli withdrew from an international tournament in Amsterdam after he was placed in a group competing with an Israeli player.

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Boycotting matches with Israeli opponents is a common practice for Kuwaiti athletes.

The United Arab Emirates normalised relations with Israel in 2020, which has led to a number of Israeli participation in sports and cultural events. Israeli involvement is usually frowned upon by other Arab states and has been the cause of boycotts.

In February, Kuwaiti inventor Jenan Al-Shehab has cancelled her upcoming 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.