Boycotts of Israel in sports refer to various disqualifications and denial of Israeli athletes. As part of a more or less systematic boycott of Israel, Israeli athletes and teams have been barred from some competitions. In many international competitions, where Israel does take part, such as the Olympic Games, some Arab and Muslim competitors avoid competing against Israelis. Some[vague] countries even compel their athletes not to compete against Israelis or in Israel.
The Israel Football Association was a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) group of FIFA between 1954 and 1974. Because of the Arab League boycott of Israel, several Arab and Muslim states refused to compete against Israel. The political situation culminated in Israel winning the 1958 World Cup qualifying stage for Asia and Africa without playing a single game, forcing FIFA to schedule a playoff between Israel and Wales to ensure the Israeli team did not qualify without playing at least one game (which Wales won). In 1974, Israel was expelled from the AFC group by a resolution initiated by Kuwait, which was adopted by AFC by a vote of 17 to 13 with 6 abstentions. To get around the ban, Israel was admitted as an associated member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in 1992, and was admitted as a full member of the UEFA group in 1994. Supporters of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement have advocated for Israel to be expelled or suspended from FIFA, without success. On 24 August 2018 the President of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub was fined CHF 20,000 (US$20,333) and banned from FIFA matches for a year for inciting hatred and violence against an Argentinian team proposing to play a friendly match in Israel.
In 2007, Mushir Salem Jawher, a Kenyan-born marathoner, lost his Bahraini citizenship after competing in the Tiberias Marathon in Israel, but later that year reacquired Bahraini citizenship and competed again in the Tiberias Marathon in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, there was an increased number of full or partial boycotts of Israeli athletes, probably related to Arab/Leftist fury over Operation Cast Lead. Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer was denied a visa to participate in a tournament in Dubai, leading to comments from stars like Serena Williams and Andy Roddick that were critical of the Dubai authorities' decision, with Roddick later pulling out of a tournament in Dubai. After a response that included a cable network cancelling its coverage of the event and a large fine for the Dubai Tennis Authorities, Dubai did issue a visa for Israeli tennis player Andy Ram to compete that year.
Tennis authorities in Malmö, Sweden wanted to cancel a Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden because of anti-Israel riots and because the city council did not want the Israeli team competing in the city. The tennis authorities were unwilling to accept a Swedish forfeit, which would have eliminated Sweden from the competition, and decided to bar spectators from the match instead. As a punishment, the city was banned from hosting Davis Cup matches for five years.
Supporters of the BDS movement also tried and failed to have Israeli teams barred from the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Egypt's Islam El Shehaby provoked outrage after refusing to shake hands with Israeli judoka, Or Sasson.
Despite the country's international political issues, a growing[vague] number of Arab athletes are joining domestic Israeli sports teams and the international teams, including the Israel national football team. These include Rifaat Turk, Najwan Ghrayib, Walid Badir, Salim Toama, Abbas Suan, amongst others. Another Arab-Israeli, Johar Abu Lashin, born in Nazareth, was an IBO Welterweight champion.
In October 2017, when an Israeli won gold in an international judo championship in the United Arab Emirates, officials refused to fly the Israeli flag and play the Israeli national anthem, instead playing the official music of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and flying the IJF's logo. The UAE also banned Israeli athletes from wearing their country's symbols on uniforms, having to wear IJF uniforms. Other contestants received similar treatment. In December 2017, seven Israelis were denied visas by Saudi Arabia to compete in an international chess tournament. In October 2018, the UAE reversed its position allowing the Israeli flag be displayed and anthem played when an Israeli judoka won a gold medal.
On 24 May 2018, a team of international jurists, including Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, announced a plan to petition the international Court of Arbitration for Sport against the exclusion of Israel's flag and anthem at sporting events in Arab countries. In July 2018, the International Judo Federation cancelled two grand slam judo events, in Tunis and Abu Dhabi, because Israeli flags were not allowed to be raised. Also in July 2018, the World Chess Federation said it will ban Tunisia from hosting the international chess competition in 2019 if it does not grant a visa to Israeli contestants, including a seven-year-old Israeli girl champion.
Since the 21st century, Israeli athletes competing in tournaments have faced boycotts by athletes from Muslim countries (primarily Iran), speculated to be the result of political interferences.
|Date||Retired athlete's name||Israeli athlete's name||Sport type||Event||Official reason for retiring|
|17 February 2001||Hamed Malekmohammadi||Yoel Razvozov||judo||2001 World Judo Championships|
|15 August 2004 ||Arash Miresmaeili||Ehud Vaks||judo||2004 Summer Olympics|
|22 June 2003||Iran national five-a-side soccer team||Israel national five-a-side soccer team||soccer||2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games|
|4 August 2005||Iran U-21 men national basketball team||Israel U-21 men national basketball team||basketball||FIBA Under-21 World Championship||Visa issues|
|28 January 2007||Ahmad Ksanfandi (referee)||Gal Yekutiel||judo||2007 Tbilisi judo Open|
|18 September 2007 ||Mehdi Mohammadi||Ilia Shafran||amateur wrestling||2007 World Wrestling Championships|
|10 August 2008 ||Mohammad Alirezaei||Tom Be'eri||swimming||2008 Summer Olympics||Indigestion|
|28 July 2009||Mohammad Alirezaei||Michael Malul||swimming||2009 World Aquatics Championships|
|30 September 2009||Mohammad Hossein Ebrahimi||Tomer Or||fencing||2009 World Fencing Championships|
|1 October 2009||Ali Fadja||Slava Zingerman||fencing||2009 World Fencing Championships||Retired from entire competition|
|1 October 2009 ||Mohammad Mohazzabnia||Tomer Hodorov||tennis||2009 Kenya Futures F1|
|4 April 2010||Iran youth national volleyball team||Israel youth national volleyball team||volleyball||2010 International Volleyball Tournament Pordenone|
|10 April 2010[not in citation given]||Meisam Bagheri||Moty Lugassi||taekwondo||A-Class Belgian Open 2010|
|28 April 2010||Iran men's national table tennis team||Israel men's national table tennis team||table tennis||2011 Luxembourg Table Tennis championship|
|21 May 2010||Ali Shahhosseini||Misha Zilberman||badminton||2010 Spanish Open|
|15 August 2010||Mohammad Soleimani||Gili Haimovitz||taekwondo||2010 Summer Youth Olympics|
|4 November 2010||Hamed Sayyad Ghanbari||Maor Hatoel||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|4 November 2010||Mohammad Hossein Ebrahimi||Kobi Hatoel||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2010||Hamed Sedaghati||Ido Herpe||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2010||Sadegh Abedi||Grigori Beskin||fencing||2010 World Fencing Championships|
|24 July 2011||Mohammad Alirezaei||Gal Nevo||swimming||2011 World Aquatics Championships||Tiredness|
|20 August 2011||Iran men's national volleyball team||Israel men's national volleyball team||volleyball||2011 Summer Universiade|
|11 September 2011 ||Ghasem Rezaei||Robert Avanesyan||amateur wrestling||2011 World Wrestling Championships|
|18 September 2011 ||Javad Mahjoub||Or Sasson||judo||World Cup Tashkent 2011|
|10 October 2011 ||Shervin Tolouei||Oren Bassal||fencing||2011 World Fencing Championships|
|5 November 2011 ||Kaveh Mehrabi||Misha Zilberman||badminton||2011 Puerto Rico International Challenge|
|21 July 2015 ||Saber Hoshmand/Abbas Pourasgari||Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman||beach volleyball||2015 FIVB Grand Slam Yokohama||injury|
|27 January 2017 ||Majid Hassaninia||Jonathan Giller||karate||21st Open de Paris - Karate Premier League||"what is of paramount importance to every Iranian athlete is his/her beliefs plus support for the defenseless Palestinian nation"|
|25 November 2017 ||Alireza Karimi||Uri Kalashnikov||wrestling||2017 World U23 Wrestling Championship||Lost prior match at instruction of coach.|
|2 October 2018 ||Hossein Vafaei||Eden Sharav||snooker||2018 European Masters|
|10 December 2018 ||Hossein Vafaei||Eden Sharav||snooker||2018 Scottish Open|
|Date||Country origin||Retired athlete's name||Israeli athlete's name||Sport type||Event||Official reason for retiring|
|26 July 2001||Tunisia||Sadok Khalki||Arik Zeevi||judo||2001 World Judo Championships|
|6 July 2006||Indonesia||Indonesia Fed Cup team||Israel Fed Cup team||tennis||2006 Fed Cup|
|19 July 2007 ||Kuwait||Mohammed al Ghareeb||Amir Weintraub||tennis||2007 Togliatti challenger||Stomach problems|
|15 August 2008 ||Syria||Bayan Jumah||Anya Gostomelsky||swimming||2008 Summer Olympics|
|7 February 2010 ||Kuwait||Kuwait men's national pool team||Israel men's national pool team||pool||2010 Hanover world team A championship||Food poison of 4 players|
|5 May 2011 ||Algeria||Zakaria Chenouf||Adam Sagir||taekwondo||2011 World Taekwondo Championships|
|1 October 2011 ||Algeria||Meriem Moussa||Shahar Levi||judo||World Cup Women Rome 2011|
|1 October 2011 ||Algeria||Rahou Abdelmalek||Artem Masliy||boxing||2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships|
|18 October 2013 ||Tunisia||Malek Jaziri||Amir Weintraub||tennis||2013 Tashkent Challenger|
|7 August 2016 ||Saudi Arabia||Joud Fahmy||Christianne Legentil/Gili Cohen||judo||2016 Summer Olympics||sustain injuries to her arm and leg during training; ostensibly dropped out of match with Christianne Legentil of Mauritius to avoid match with Gili Cohen in next round|