For the first time, Israeli athletes will compete in Abu Dhabi under an Israeli flag.
By: United with Israel Staff and AP
A judo competition in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been reinstated after organizers promised equal treatment to Israeli athletes, who will compete under their flag and not that of the International Judo Federation.
In July, the International Judo Federation cancelled the tournaments in the UAE and Tunisia over their anti-Israel discrimination. The IJF announced Monday that the UAE national federation confirmed “all nations participating in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will have the possibility to do so in equal conditions.”
The IJF stated that the “historic decision will thus allow all nations to display their national insignia and national anthem, including Israel.”
The IJF “salutes the efforts of the UAE Judo Federation as well as the fair-play and mutual friendship and respect shown by the UAE authorities, which represent a huge step forward in establishing and promoting peaceful relationships between all nations of the world.”
Israeli Minister for Culture and Sports Miri Regev welcomed the decision and congratulated IJF head Marius Vizer for his “tremendous accomplishment” which will entitle Israeli athletes to the respect and dignity that all other athletes enjoy.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018 will take place October 27-29.
In October 2017, Israel’s Judo team encountered hostility in Abu Dhabi when the country barred Israel’s team from donning national symbols and refused to play the Jewish state’s national anthem during the tournament.
The 12 Israeli athletes participating in the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam tournament were even prohibited from displaying the letters “ISR” on their uniforms to identify their nationality.
Similarly, in one of the competitions, Israel’s Tohar Butbul beat the UAE’s Rashad Almashjari, who then refused to shake hands after losing.
Arab and Muslim countries regularly discriminate against Israeli athletes, subjecting them to humiliation, boycotts and other forms of shaming at international tournaments.
For example, in November 2017 Morocco refused entry to Israel’s national judo team.
In April, a court in Tunis banned four Israeli athletes from competing at the Taekwondo World Junior Championships after a group of anti-Israel activists who opposed “normalization” with Jewish state filed a lawsuit.
In August, an Israeli sportsman was again faced with discrimination when his Jordanian opponent ate so much ahead of the match that he flunked the weigh-in, thereby disqualifying himself from competing.
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