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Olympics: Israelis say Lebanese refuse to train next to them
Published Saturday 28/07/2012 (updated) 30/07/2012 12:58
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Japan's Hiroaki Hiraoka fights with Israel's Artiom Arshanski (blue)
during their men's -60kg elimination round of 16 judo match, at the
London 2012 Olympic Games July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples
LONDON (Reuters) -- Olympic officials were forced to erect a screen between Lebanon's and Israel's judo fighters on Friday after the Lebanese refused to train on the same mat, the Israeli Olympic team said on Friday.

The incident arose after Lebanon's two judokas found themselves next to the five Israelis during practice at the official training venue in Redbridge, in east London, said Nitzan Ferraro, spokesman for the Israeli Olympic Committee.

"We started to practice. They came and they saw us - they didn't like it and they went to the organizers," Feraro told Reuters. "They put up some kind of wall between us. Everyone went on and there was no interaction between us."

The Lebanese Olympic Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

Organizers of the judo competition said there were always screens available so that competing athletes and their coaching staff would not be able to spy on each other's training.

Lebanon has for decades been under the influence of Syria, a bitter enemy of Israel, and the two have technically been at war since 1948.

The last military confrontation involving the two countries took place in 2006 when Israel launched an offensive against the Shiite Hezbollah group, an Iranian-backed faction which holds great influence in Lebanese politics, after Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets at Israel.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been largely quiet since then.

Ferraro said the incident had not been a big deal for them.

"It didn't matter for us. We don't mix politics and sport. We had no problem," he said.

Lebanon's Caren Chammas and Israel's Alice Schlesinger will both compete in the women's -63kg category next Tuesday but could only meet in the final, an eventuality organizers believe is highly unlikely.
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1 ) KAGH / US
28/07/2012 20:39
lol "It didn't matter for us. We don't mix politics and sport. We had no problem," really? Israel has done nothing but mix politics and sport where the Olympics are concerned

2 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
29/07/2012 17:59
We don't give a damn WHO objects to training or competing next to us. If Lebanon or any nation wants to put up an iron wall between our athletes and theirs ANY time that's fine with us.

3 ) Robby / USA
29/07/2012 19:55
That's the way to honor the sport - NOT!!! The athletes should STFU and play for the good of the game.

4 ) Lisa / Earth
29/07/2012 23:28
Funny! Suddenly Israeli's want to mix? Israeli's should be happy to have an apartheid wall to make them feel at home.

5 ) ian / australia
29/07/2012 23:48
#2 I agree with Yehuda as long as the screen is on the legal border.

6 ) Jihane / Palestine/France
30/07/2012 01:11
Two Israeli swimmers are soldiers in the IDF, and one of them, Yoav Tomarkin, expressed that he's representing both his country and the IDF in front of his competitors. Google and you'll find the declaration on IDF's website. Well, this is not the way to honor sport, and hopefully he'll drown !

7 ) Emile / Palestine
30/07/2012 11:04
Maybe the Israeli athletes are to cheap to buy deodorant?

8 ) Robby / USA
30/07/2012 16:20
6 ) Jihane / Palestine/France - Politics do not belong in sports. Regardless of what any athlete thinks they should play the game to the best of their ability and compete with good faith. If they can't do that than the don't belong there.

9 ) carine / UK
31/07/2012 02:04
#8 Robbie - "Politics do not belong in sports" - correct. Did you say the same when Israel tried to force the IOC on the minutes silence? BTW it would be no big deal for Israel, they're used to having a wall between themselves and the outside world...

10 ) Robby / USA
01/08/2012 16:32
9 ) carine / UK - the moment of silence would not be politics, it would be to honor a fallen athletes, something that happened during the games. Same as last Winter Olympics when they had a moment of silence for that Luge racer that was killed.

11 ) Lainey G / USA
09/08/2012 05:08
Robby: Thank God at least one person can recognize that the Israelis deserve the same courtesy when at the olympics as any other athletes do. Unfortunately, there are still mean spirited people in the world who can't separate poltiics ever. They deserve to be there and they had every right to ask for a moment of silence for the 11 athletes that were killed during the Olympics. No other nation had to endure such a tragedy and it's a shame that the entire world didn't feel compassion for Israel.
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