The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday criticized the Qatari organizers of an international swimming competition during which an Israeli flag was removed from display over the weekend.

The controversy erupted when officials at the FINA Swimming World Cup removed an Israeli flag from display at the Hamad Aquatic Center in Doha. One of the participants in the competition was Amit Ivry, Israel’s swimming champion who ended up capturing the silver medal in the 100-meter individual medley.

During the medal ceremony, the Israeli flag was raised in tribute to Ivry’s performance, but when Ivry’s image was flashed on television, the on-screen graphics showed a white box in the area where normally a flag would appear indicating the athlete’s representative country.

“While it is notable that Israeli swimmers competed in the Swimming World Cup, the Qatari organizers surrendered to complaints and effectively whitewashed Israeli symbols from the competition,” ADL chief Abe Foxman said. “As more and more Arab countries host international sporting events in which Israeli athletes compete, this is an unacceptable gesture.”

“International sporting federations, who have guidelines mandating that all qualifying athletes be permitted to compete, must also now ensure that host countries guarantee that all participants and national teams – regardless of their nationalities – be treated equally, and that their national origin be fully recognized,” Foxman said. “Organizers of international sporting events cannot permit public opinion to politicize competitions, nor sully competitors.”

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