Israeli judoka wins gold in UAE but not under Israel flag

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Israeli judoka has won a gold medal at a competition held in Abu Dhabi, though he did not compete under the Israeli flag.

Tal Flicker won gold on Thursday in the men’s under-66 kilogram (145 pounds) competition at the Judo Grand-Slam Abu Dhabi 2017. As every year, the United Arab Emirates banned Israeli athletes from wearing their country’s symbols on uniforms, and singled Israel out with a ban on displaying its flag or playing its anthem during the tournament.

Earlier this week, the International Judo Federation demanded that the UAE treat Israeli athletes equally.

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

Flicker competed under the International Judo Federation flag.

At the award ceremony, he could be seen on the podium apparently mouthing the words to the “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. The Judo federation flag flew above him.

The UAE, like many Arab countries, does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and remains opposed to its occupation of lands Palestinians want for a future state. Only Egypt and Jordan host Israeli Embassies in the Mideast.

An Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent at the Rio Olympics last year. Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered the country’s top player to withdraw from a match against an Israeli opponent at a tournament in 2013.


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