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Mauritania chess player pulls out of Junior World Cup to avoid Israel player

14-year-old Mauritanian chess player Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad
14-year-old Mauritanian chess player Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad

A 14-year-old Mauritanian chess player has pulled out of the Junior World Cup because the draw set him up to face an Israeli player.

"I decided to retire, because I refuse to play with a representative of a fictional country that in reality does not exist," Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad said.

Talented player Abdul Rahim Al-Talib ranked 47th out of 215 players in the world.

The Mauritanian National League welcomed his decision and honoured him upon his return.

"We salute our dear son Abdel Rahman Al-Talib Mohammed, this exceptional genius which honoured our country and our people by declaring a boycott of the grim Zionist face," said Ghulam Al-Hajj, president of the league.

Israel is often accused of using its presence in international sports and cultural events as a means to 'sportswash' its human rights violations. Other Arab athletes have taken public stances against the normalisation of the relations under the guise of diplomacy in sportsmanship.

READ: 7 Arab-speaking states reject granting Israel observer status at African Union

Last month, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the 73kg men's event at the Tokyo Olympics after he found out he would have to face Israeli fighter Tohar Butbul in the second round.

This is the second time the athlete has pulled out of his second-round bout against the Israeli fighter, the first being at the 2019 World Championships in Japan. At the time, he explained it was to display his solidarity with the Palestinians.

After Nourine left the Olympic Games, the IJF withdrew his Olympics accreditation, stating his

actions were "in total opposition to our philosophy."

"We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this,"

Nourine said, declaring his decision as "final."

With Nourine out of the games, Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool, who was automatically qualified to face Butbul, also withdrew.

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