Having been refused to board a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul, the 12 Israeli judokas will now have to travel to Amman, Jordan to receive their visas allowing them to enter and compete in the Grand Slam event in UAE.
By Gary Willig
The Israeli judo team, which was supposed to fly to the United Arab Emirates via Istanbul for the Grand Slam event, was stranded at Ben Gurion Airport after Turkish Airlines refused to allow them on its plane, Channel 1 reported.
The 12 Israeli jukokas were supposed to receive their visas to the United Arab Emirates in Istanbul and arrive for the competition tonight (Monday). The team will now have to travel to Amman to receive the visas instead.
Moshe Ponte, the president of the Israel Judo Association, said: “We will not give, even if we have to reach Abu Dhabi on foot. Now we have to fly to Amman to get visas there instead of flying to Istanbul as we planned. We are looking to change our tickets. We will arrive after 14 hours of waiting in Amman. We may arrive exhausted, but we will not give up.”
The Israeli judo team has already experienced discrimination in the competition in Abu Dhabi. The team will not be allowed to compete under the Israeli flag during the event, and will be the only nation prevented from doing so. The team will also not be allowed hear their national anthem, “Hatikvah,” should they win.
Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates.
Among Israel’s delegation is Or Sasson, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. During those games, Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Sasson.
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