Judo competitions cancelled over treatment of Israel

Judo Federation suspends competitions in Tunisia and UAE after hosts fail to confirm that Israelis would receive equal treatment.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Judo (illustration)
Judo (illustration)
Kobi Gideon/Flash 90

The International Judo Federation on Friday suspended planned competitions in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates after the hosts failed to confirm that Israeli athletes would receive equal treatment, AFP reported.

The IJF had asked judo officials in both Muslim majority nations to provide written guarantees that the Israeli national anthem and flag could be included in the events.

"As no positive answer was received to date, although past the given deadline, the International Judo Federation's Executive Committee decided to suspend both the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and the Tunis Grand Prix until governmental guarantee is given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations at the said events," an IJF statement said.

The federation "is aware that the situation and incidents registered are due to a complex and complicated political and historical context, but we strongly believe that politics should not have any interference in sports," it added, according to AFP.

It underscored that the decision was in line with the federation's anti-discrimination rules.

Culture and Sport Miri Regev welcomed the decision to scrap the events, accusing the UAE and Tunisia of playing "an ugly game...and showing prejudice."

"I welcome IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, for his justified and courageous decision to cancel the competitions in both Abu Dhabi and Tunisia due to their outrageous decision to draw a distinction between national teams that will be 'allowed' to fly their flags and to sound their national anthems and others which will not," said Regev.

"International competitions should not ban any state. Tunisia and Abu Dhabi play an ugly game and show their prejudice. Mr. Vizer's justified and brave decision should set an example to all international sports leaders," she added.

Last October, organizers of the Grand Slam tournament in Abu Dhabi refused to play Israel’s national anthem when 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.

Video clips showed Flicker singing what appears to be the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.”

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.

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.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)