SPEED SKATER Vladislav Bykanov (front) will once again headline Israel’s delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev sent a strongly worded letter to the European Olympics Committee regarding their map of Israel, which doesn't include the Golan Heights or West Bank.
"From the point of view of the Israeli Government, Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank) constitute an inseparable part of the State of Israel," Regev wrote, while according to the law of the State of Israel, the Golan Heights are under Israeli sovereign rule, a fact recognized by many international bodies as well as by the United States of America."
The letter was sent to the heads of the International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee ahead of the European Games in Minsk. The map, which Regev said removed the two regions, was part of promotional material for the upcoming multi-national sporting event.
Regev said it was as if the European Olympics Committee was making a judgement call on whether or not Israel was legitimate in maintaining jurisdiction over the lands that were incorporated into the Jewish state after the 1967 Six Day War.
She said the European Olympics Committee "publicly cast doubt upon the sovereign rights of the State of Israel in these matters, thereby excluding thousands of active athletes, sports organizations and associations of competitive and popular sports."
She added that such a move breached rules that separate politics from sports.
"I call upon you to take immediate action in order to correct this outrageous mistake," Regev stated in a letter also signed by Yigal Carmi and Gili Lustig, of Israel's Olympic committee, and Yosi Sharabi of the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
Israel has faced opposition during international sporting events in the past, particularly from countries with majority Muslim populations. However the tide may be turned, as last week Iran's National Olympic Committee confirmed
that they would "fully respect the Olympic Charter and its non-discrimination principle." In past events, Iranian athletes were compelled to forfeit rather than compete in the same event with an Israeli. Athletes from Israel have also faced trouble with entry visas
to Muslim nations.
In October, Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” was played for the first time
in the United Arab Emirates, during a judo match. Regev, who attended the event in Abu Dhabi, openly wept when the Israel anthem was played at the awards ceremony.