Syrian boxer refuses to compete against Israeli
A Syrian boxer on Saturday quit the world boxing championship in Azerbaijan after he refused to compete against an Israeli rival.
The first round match between Syrian Ala Ghasoun and the Israeli fighter was scheduled to place at the tournament which is a precondition to qualifying for the upcoming 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I quit the competition because my rival was Israeli, and I cannot shake his hand or compete against him while he represents a Zionist regime that kills the Syrian people,” Ghasoun said according to Arab media.
“If I fight against him, it would mean that I, as an athlete, and Syria, as a state, recognize the state of Israel,” Ghasoun added.
“The decision to quit was not mine,” the Syrian boxer said. “It was made by the Syrian Sports Federation and by senior Syrian officials. It was a very difficult decision, because I have worked hard to participate in the championship. But I serve my homeland – my honor and my loyalty belong to Syria.”
Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the Golan has been tense, with a growing number of mostly stray rockets and mortar rounds hitting the Israeli side, prompting the occasional armed response.