Israeli judoka Tal Flicker wins the under-66 kg category competition at the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam on Thursday, but under the flag of the International Judo Federation, he sang the Hatikvah, while IJF anthem was loudly played.
By ALLON SINAI
Israeli judoka Tal Flicker scaled the top of the podium and received his gold medal on Thursday, but the Israel national anthem was not played and the blue-and-white flag was not raised in Abu Dhabi.
— Elad Ratson (@EladRatson) October 26, 2017
The 25-year-old won the under-66 kilogram category competition at the Abu Dhabi judo Grand Slam on Thursday, but he had to do so under the flag of the International Judo Federation (IJF), with the event organizers refusing to allow Israelis to compete under their country’s flag.
The organizers claimed that, due to security reasons, the Israelis can’t have their flag on their judo uniform and instead of having ISR (Israel) by their names on the scoreboard and on their backs, they would have to take part as representatives of the IJF. For the same reason, they explained that should an Israeli win a gold medal the national anthem, Hatikva, would not be played.
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The delegation, numbering 12 athletes, arrived in Abu Dhabi via Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, a day later than scheduled. The judokas waited for seven hours at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday, only to return home frustrated after being told that they can’t pick up their visas in Istanbul, Turkey, as they were initially told.
International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer sent a letter to the organizers on Monday demanding that “the Israeli delegation shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects.”
Vizer wrote in his letter that the IJF Statutes “clearly provide that the IJF shall not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, gender or political opinion.”
However, Abu Dhabi officials still insisted that Israel takes part in the event under the IJF flag.
That did nothing to discourage Flicker, with Israel’s Gili Cohen also picking up a medal on Thursday, taking a bronze in the women’s under-52kg competition.
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