Lebanese Olympic Judo Team Tefuses to Practice Next to Israelis

Israeli Judokas Practice
Israeli judokas practice on their side of the barrier, separated from the Lebanese athletes (photo Israeli Olympic Committee)

Hosts accept coach’s demand, and separate the teams with makeshift barrier

The Lebanese judo team at the 2012 London Olympics refused to practice next to the Israeli one on Friday afternoon, and a makeshift barrier was erected to split their gym into two halves.

According to several Hebrew sports sites, the two teams were scheduled to use the same gym and mats at London’s new ExCeL center for their final preparations. However, the delegation from Lebanon would not train in view of the Israeli team, and insisted some sort of barrier be placed between them.

An Olympic worker places a barrier between Israeli and Lebanese athletes (photo credit: courtesy of the Israeli Olympic Committee)

Organizers accepted the Lebanese coach’s demand to separate the teams, erecting a barrier so that the Lebanese team wouldn’t see the Israeli one.

The incident was the first political one between Israel and other countries during the 2012 Games, which don’t formally get under way until Friday evening’s opening ceremony. It happened only days after the Iranian delegation head stated his nation’s athletes would compete with Israelis, a statement which was quickly rejected by Tehran, which tried to suggest that his true sentiment was lost in translation.

Courtesy of The Times of Israel