Yarden Gerbi received a hero’s welcome at Ben-Gurion Airport August 31 after winning silver medal at World Judo Championships in Russia.
(photo credit: (DEUFERT & PLISCHKE)
Israel’s delegation to the Judo World Masters event in Rabat, Morocco, returned home on Monday night after an unpleasant experience in the Muslim country.
The unhappy stay began immediately with the delegation’s arrival. The Israelis were held for eight hours at the airport in a room without food, water or chairs, with local officials claiming that there was a problem with their visas.
The athletes and coaching staff were ultimately afforded entry into the country following pressure by the International Judo Federation, but when they arrived at the competition’s venue they discovered that the Israeli flag was missing alongside the flags of the rest of the countries.
The Israelis also received a hostile reception from the crowd every time they competed and were unhappy with the officiating at the event.
“What happened in Morocco was a disgrace,” said Israel’s former world champion Yarden Gerbi, who finished the under-63 kilogram competition in fifth place on Saturday.
“As an Israeli, I’m embarrassed to have had to wait eight hours at the airport and embarrassed to hear the boos towards my teammates. And all of this because we are Israelis.
We came to participate in a sporting competition without any politics. This is a disgrace for Morocco and the organizers. I hope no Israeli, or anyone else for that matter, ever experiences something like this.”
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