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Kuwait motosurf player quits UAE comp to avoid Israel opponent

Motosurf championship in Khairan, Kuwait on 23 October 2021 [YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images]
Motosurf championship in Khairan, Kuwait on 23 October 2021 [YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images]

Kuwaiti motosurf player Abdul Razzaq Al-Baghli withdrew from the Emirates International Motosurf Championship to avoid competing against an Israeli competitor.

Thirty-four competitors from a range of countries are taking part in the championship which commenced on Saturday in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

In a video shared on social media, Al-Baghli explained that his decision to pull out from the water sports event was consistent with Kuwait's objective of "persistent support for the Palestinian cause".

In response, Tariq Al-Shaya, a member of Kuwait's Supreme Coordinating Committee for Anti-Zionism and Normalisation, praised the sportsman: "Al-Baghli's decision is a position that will be engraved in the records of history with gold letters."

"Expulsion of the Zionist occupation begins with international isolation, which Kuwaiti sportsmen have done in teams and individual games."

"The message that every Kuwaiti player conveys in all fields is that Palestine will endure, your occupation will cease, and Jerusalem will remain Palestine's capital for all time," he added.

READ: Israel to resume all flights to Dubai with new security deal – security agency

Member of Kuwait's National Assembly, Ahmed Al-Hamad, added that Al-Baghli's withdrawal from the motor surf competition "confirms our confidence in our Kuwaiti youth, who are conscious of their country's affairs."

"His decision shows Kuwait's strong and decisive stance against the Zionist entity – it is a direct answer to all those who demand normalisation prior to the restoration of the Palestinians people's rights," he said.

Al-Baghli joins a number of Kuwaiti sportspersons who have refused to face Israeli opponents. Most recently, 14-year-old tennis player, Muhammad Al-Awadi, withdrew from an international tournament held in the United Arab Emirates.

Israel is often accused of using 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 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.

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