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      Qatar Warned Over Disrespecting Israeli Swimmers

      FINA warns officials in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for hiding the Israeli flag during World Cup swimming events.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 10/24/2013, 2:15 AM

      Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
      Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
      Flash 90

      Swimming's governing body on Wednesday formally warned officials in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for disrespecting Israeli swimmers at World Cup events.

      FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press that the two organizing committees apologized for the incidents in the past week.

      Israel's team protested when the country's name and flag appeared to be censored in pre-race introductions and television broadcasts, Marculescu told AP.

      The incidents raised questions about Qatar's hosting the 2014 World Short-Course Championships in Doha. The governing body has rules prohibiting discrimination, including on grounds of religion or politics.

      "Next year we have the world championships and these things will not happen anymore," Marculescu stated. "Every year we have events there and we never had things like this."

      The incidents occurred when Israeli swimmer Amit Ivry won a medal at the swimming events held at Dubai last Thursday and Friday and Doha on Sunday and Monday. Her teammates noted, however, that she seemed to be ignored by television cameras in some races.

      Israeli media reported that television coverage of the swim event blocked the image of the Israeli flag whenever a graphic with country flags appeared next to swimmers.

      Marculescu said local organizing committees were responsible for World Cup broadcasts.

      "I think it was a good experience. No more is it going to happen," he told AP, adding that medal ceremonies involving Ivry were conducted properly.

      At previous meets held in the Middle East, Israeli swimmers and officials have had difficulties getting visas to enter host countries.

      "This time there was no problem," Marculescu said. "Only these stupid things."

      Qatar broke off diplomatic relations with Israel after Israel's Cast Lead counterterror operation in 2009. The two countries have been reported to have close ties in the security field, however.