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UAE to allow Israeli athletes to 'compete equally' at judo competition

Israeli athletes will compete equally at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 September, 2018

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reversed its policy of banning Israeli athletes from competing under the Israeli flag or playing the national anthem.

The UAE has reversed its policy of banning Israeli athletes from competing under the Israeli flag or playing the national anthem, the International Judo Federation (IJF) said on Monday.

In July, the federation barred the UAE and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments after they failed to guarantee the equal treatment of Israeli athletes.  

Later, it said it was "pleased to announce that… the UAE Judo Federation confirmed in an official letter sent to the IJF that all nations participating in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam will have the possibility to do so in equal conditions".

As a result of the policy reversal, Israeli athletes will be able to compete equally at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Slam between 25 and 27 October.

Israeli athletes will be allowed to display their national insignia and play the national anthem.

At last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Slam organisers refused to fly the Israeli flag or play the national anthem during ceremonies for Israeli medallists.

Israeli competitors competed instead under the flag of the IJF.

Gold medal winner Tal Flicker privately sang Israel's "Hatikvah" national anthem as the IJF's anthem played in the background.

Two judokas from the UAE and Morocco also refused to shake hands with their Israeli competitors.

Last month, a Jordanian athlete refused to compete against an Israeli judo competitor at an international tournament in the latest act of boycott against Israeli athletes.

During the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, an Egyptian judo fighter was criticised for refusing to shake hands with an Israeli competitor.

The UAE, like many Arab countries, does not have official diplomatic ties with Israel and remains opposed to its 50-year occupation of Palestinian land.

Last year, however, leaked emails of the UAE's ambassador to the US revealed that Abu Dhabi had established clandestine relations with Israel.

Israeli officials have been repeatedly suggesting there is a profound cooperation with UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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