The Secretary General of the Israel Boxing Association has said it’s a ‘pity that politics has once again interfered with sports” after a Syrian boxer refused to enter the ring with his Israeli opponent.

Yakov Voloch, who is also the CEO of the IBA, was speaking after it emerged Syrian boxer Alaa Ghosoun refused to fight Artiom Masliy.

Voloch told Jewish News: “I can say only it is a pity that politics interferes with sports. I’m sure if it was a choice of the Syrian athlete he would have entered the ring. I think these instructions came from the government.”

Reflecting how unfortunately this isn’t uncommon, he said: “This is not the first time an athlete from an Arab country is not competing in front of an Israeli athlete. There was a similar case in Lithuania with the youth team when a Tunisian boxer didn’t compete with an Israeli boxer, even though the Israeli athlete was of Arab descent

“In the Israeli team we have boxers from all nationalities, who live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship, as well as Israeli Arabs. In the last youth European championships, we had a boxer who won bronze and he was Israeli Arab from Nazareth.”

Masliy lost his next fight against a Greek opponent.