Israeli judoka resists in Tokyo after 2 rivals withdraw

TOKYO (AP) – Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul couldn’t help but shake his head in resignation as he learned that his two possible first rivals at the Olympics withdrew from competition shortly after learning they would face him.

“These are things that happen sometimes in judo, so it wasn’t strange to me,” Butbul said. “I just had to wait, stay focused and wait for my first chance.”

Algerian Fetih Nourine withdrew from the Games on Saturday when he learned that if he advanced to the second round, he would face Butbul on Monday, citing his support for the Palestinians as an argument for his decision.

On Monday, the Sudanese Mohamed Abdalrasool did not appear for his fight with Butbul in the round of 16 of the final although he had attended the previous weigh-in.

Abdalrasool did not comment publicly on his decision, but Butbul said that his team was told that he suffered a shoulder injury, a reason that does not convince either the judoka or those around him.

Butbul, seventh in the world in the lightweight division, would surely have crushed Nourine (31st) and Abdalrasool, who is 469th and competing in Tokyo thanks to a last-minute invitation.

With a clear path to the round of 16, Butbul defeated Moldovan Victor Sterpu and edged South Korean star An Changrim in the quarter-finals with a waza ari.

The Israeli dismissed his first Olympic adventure with a loss to Canadian Arthur Margelidon in the repechage and finished seventh.

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Butbul declined to talk about politics, but he did regret his sports shortcomings.

“I came with the pure objective of winning a medal, and for me it is very hard to bear that I did not meet my own expectations,” said Butbul. “That was the goal of my entire career. It is still too early to understand what happened. I did not go. I am precise when executing my plan, but in judo there is sometimes a gap between what you plan and reality ”.

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