UAE bans Israeli flag, anthem as judoka wins gold

Israeli judoka wins gold in UAE but flag, anthem banned
2 min read
27 October, 2017
An Israeli judoka won a gold medal at a competition in Abu Dhabi on Thursday but did not compete under the Israeli flag or have the national anthem played.
The UAE banned Israeli athletes from wearing the country's symbols on their uniforms. [Getty]

An Israeli judoka won a gold medal at a competition in Abu Dhabi on Thursday but did not compete under the Israeli flag or have his national anthem played during the awards ceremony.

Tal Flicker won gold in the men's under-66 kilogram competition at the Judo Grand-Slam Abu Dhabi 2017.

As with every year, the UAE banned Israeli athletes from wearing the country's symbols on their uniforms and Flicker received his medal under the International Judo Federation (IJF) banner instead of the Israeli flag.

At the award ceremony, he could be seen on the podium apparently mouthing the words to the "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem, as the IJF anthem was played in its place.

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."

During last year's Olympics in Brazil, an Egyptian judo fighter was criticised for refusing to shake hands with an Israeli competitor.

Tunisia's tennis federation ordered the country's top player to withdraw from a match against an Israeli opponent at a tournament in 2013.

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.

Only Egypt and Jordan host Israeli embassies in the Middle East.

The move is likely a symbolic gesture from the UAE, which has long maintained secret links with Israel.

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

The emails showed a "growing link" between the UAE and pro-Israel think-tank, Foundation for Defence of Democracies.

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

They say they have been working together against common foe Iran and against groups such as Hamas.