When politics get involved into sports it’s usually a guaranteed mess. The organizing committee of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in Judo ruled recently that Israeli team cannot compete with symbols of the state.
This mirrors the situation from 2 years ago when in the same competition Israeli participants weren’t able to wear Israel’s flag on the uniform and no national anthem was to be played in case of victory.
“We assume that this time, too, the Israeli team will not be able to appear under the national flags,” said the Israel Judo Association. “This assumption comes after a conversation between association chairman Moshe Ponte and the chairman of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer.”
The tournament will take place in UAE’s capital city from October 26 through 28.
Israel’s judo association issued a statement saying:
“We won’t be dragged into the political arena and won’t award prizes to those who want to deter us from appearing all over the world. Our goal is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the competitions on the way are a means of achieving the goal. There are some who are trying to prevent us from achieving this goal, who would be happy if Israelis don’t appear at the Olympics, but we won’t let them disturb us.”
The United Arab Emirates and Israel have no diplomatic relations. Athletes from the Arab world routinely forfeit matches to avoid facing an Israeli competitor.