Boycott update: Champion fencer Sara Besbes stands down rather than plays Israeli
Sara Besbes, a Tunisian champion fencer, boycotted a competition in Italy rather than fence Israeli Noam Mills.
Besbes, who comes from a family of great fame in fencing, reached the final round where she had to play against an Israeli player. However, she stood still on the platform, pointing her sword toward the ground and refusing to move as a sign she was boycotting the Israeli athlete but without officially announcing it to avoid punitive measures by the judges.
Tunis Radio reports Noam Mills “collapsed in tears” as she was declared the winner.
A Google translation of this article from the Italian press indicates Besbes’s action required Mills to win the competition by inflicting the final blows against Besbes as she “remained completely passive to the point of suffering from the five thrusts that have losing the match”
An abnormal behavior that has not escaped the referees, who could not take action because it was not a rejection but, apparently, of a defeat. The Besbes, 22, belongs to a family of fencers: the mother was one of the most famous specialists in Tunisia, three sisters and a brother are part of the National Assembly and the father is on the board of the Federation. She, Sarah, was African champion and points to a place for the London Olympics. In short, not a champion, but even the newcomer, and there is more than reasonable suspicion that hers was a conscious decision and inspired by the leaders of her Federation. Even the rival, winning, reacted to the success with tears. The 5-0 defeat cost the Tunisian also the final knockout in the next round got the Chinese Li Na, who has eliminated easily. The Mills has instead continued the journey by eliminating the Mexican Teran and entered the main draw which Thursday released the new world champion. Sara and Tunisian leaders have preferred to avoid the comment.
This was the second such incident this week. Iranian Sayyad Ghanbari Hamad refused to fight against Israeli Tomer Or.
- Ex-Israeli diplomat: Boycott my country (csmonitor.com)