Israeli Judokas allowed to show national pride in Abu Dhabi

After years of refusals, Israeli judokas to perform under national flag and play anthem at Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi.

Tzvi Lev ,

Judo (illustration)
Judo (illustration)

In a first, Israeli judokas will be allowed to perform under their national flag at the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, which started on Saturday, will allow Israel's delegation to wear the Israeli flag on their uniforms and will play the national anthem 'Hatikva' during the opening ceremonies.

In addition, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev arrived at the United Arab Emirates in order to attend the games, a first in a country which does not recognize the State of Israel.

Many Muslim countries which do not have relations with Israel have barred its athletes from taking part in sporting events in their countries, or have restricted them in cases in which they have been permitted to participate.

In July, the International Judo Federation suspended both the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and an event in Tunisia from its schedule after the hosts failed to confirm that Israeli athletes would receive equal treatment.

Last October, organizers of the Grand Slam tournament in Abu Dhabi refused to play Israel’s national anthem when Israeli judoka Tal Flicker won a gold medal.

Flicker was wearing an International Judo Federation uniform and received his medal under an IJF flag while the anthem of the federation was played.

The restrictions on the Israelis continued despite the fact that the IJF had called on the United Arab Emirates to treat Israeli athletes equally during the Grand Slam tournament.

In April, four young Israeli athletes were banned from competing in the taekwondo world junior championship event in Tunisia.

A month later, a bid by Tunisia to host the 2022 Youth Olympics was blocked because the country had banned the Israeli athletes.