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Teen Kuwait tennis player refuses to face Israel opponent in UAE

Muhammad Al-Awadi [amr0000nassef/Twitter]
Muhammad Al-Awadi [amr0000nassef/Twitter]

A 14-year-old Kuwaiti tennis player has withdrawn from an international tennis tournament held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent.

Muhammad Al-Awadi refused to face an Israeli player despite reaching the semi-finals of the international professional championship, earning widespread praise on social media.

Kuwaiti MP Osama Al-Shaheen welcomed his decision: "Greetings and thanks to the Kuwaiti hero Muhammad al-Awadi for his refusal to normalise sports competitions with Zionists."

While Yusuf Al-Sanad, a member of the Persian Gulf Scholars Union, wrote on Twitter that the Kuwaiti tennis player's decision was taken in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in rejection of Israeli apartheid regime.

He wrote: "The Kuwaiti and Gulf campion Muhammad Al-Awadi withdraws from playing a representative from [Israel] in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are still being terrorised, imprisoned, their homes demolished and are being killed by Israel."

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The Dubai Tennis Championships started on 17 January with 300 players from 50 countries competing in six different age categories.

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

Last year, Mauritanian chess player, Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad, pulled out of the Junior World Cup after he was set to face an Israeli player.

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.

Kuwait maintains a consistent stance in opposition to normalisation with Israel. In 2020, after the Abraham Accords signed between Israel and Gulf states the UAE and Bahrain, 37 Kuwaiti lawmakers urged their government to condemn the move.

IsraelKuwaitMiddle EastNewsPalestineUAE
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