Libya pulls out of fencing world championships, refusing to face Israel
Libya's national fencing side on Sunday pulled out of the world championships to avoid competing against Israel, according to the Libyan News Agency.
Libya had made it to the final round of the tournament, which is being held in Dubai in the UAE.
Serajeddin Etajouri, the side's coach, applauded his athletes for their "outstanding performance", Al Jazeera reported.
Etajouri said that "the reason [for Libya pulling out] was our defiance against the Zionist entity," in a reference to Israel.
Libya made this move "despite our technical superiority over them and our confidence in beating them, but the Palestinian cause is our cause and the cause of all Arabs and Muslims," the coach explained.
Middle Eastern sportspeople have often declined to face Israeli opponents.
These include Fethi Nourine, an Algerian judo player.
He had been supposed to fight a Sudanese opponent but would not accept a potential matchup with an Israeli judoka in the following stage of competition at last year's Tokyo Olympics.