Olympic triathlete Shachar Sagiv became the first Israeli to compete in a Saudi sporting event.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
In a sign of further thawing Israeli-Saudi relations, Olympic triathlete Schachar Sagiv became the first Israeli to compete in a Saudi sporting event on Saturday. He was competing in the Saudi NEOM leg of the Super League Triathlon.
The head of Israel’s Olympic committee, Yael Arad, called Sagiv’s participation “a very significant breakthrough.”
“In the past year we’ve seen many Arab states come to terms with the fact that hosting an international tournament means hosting Israelis,” Arad said in a statement. “This is a growing trend and the true force in normalization between nations, and especially people.”
Sagiv’s coach, Lior Cohen noted on social media that he and Sagiv had no problems entering Saudi Arabia with their Israeli passports. Cohen added that that several weeks ago, they were prevented from competing in Jordan even though Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement 28 years ago.
The triathlon is a multi-sport endurance competition in which athletes swim, run and bicycle.
Sagiv had high hopes for a podium finish, having taken second place at the Super League Triathlon Malibu in September, but faced challenges during the race. According to Sport1, the 28-year-old fell from his from his bicycle and was forced to sprint with it to the transition stage, costing time. Sagiv was eliminated after not getting on his bike within 90 seconds of the leading competitor.
The Saudi competition was won by Hayden Wilde of New Zealand.
Sagiv is now setting his sights on the Bermuda World Triathlon Championship Series in November.
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