UAE instructed to treat Israeli athletes equally

International Judo Federation calls on UAE to treat Israeli athletes equally during local tournament.

Ben Ariel ,

Kobi Gideon/Flash 90

The International Judo Federation (IJF) on Wednesday called on the United Arab Emirates to treat Israeli athletes equally during this week’s Grand Slam tournament, JTA reports.

The letter followed news that the team will be prevented from wearing the Israeli flag or any other national emblems on their uniform, including the designation ISR for Israel.

As well, if they win a place on the podium they will not hear their national anthem, “Hatikvah.” Instead, they will be identified as competing as part of the International Judo Federation.

The letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation said that “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”

The letter also says that the IJF statutes “clearly provide that the IJF shall not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, gender or political opinion.”

The organizers claim that security issues prevent the Israeli team from being identified as such. Eight Israelis competed under similar conditions during the same event held two years ago in Abu Dhabi, noted JTA.

The 12 Israelis participating in the two-day tournament that begins Thursday arrived in the United Arab Emirates one day later than planned, on Tuesday, due to problems with their visas. UAE and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.

Israel’s delegation includes Or Sasson, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. During those games, Egyptian judoka Islam el-Shahabi refused to shake hands with Sasson.

Egypt's Olympic Committee later distanced itself from el-Shahabi's actions, saying the decision to refuse the handshake was his own. El-Shahabi was eventually sent home.