Ori Sasson of Israel's Judo team.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel's representatives to the judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi have been told that they will once more not be allowed to compete under their country's flag.
The blue-and-white delegation to the final Grand Slam competition of the year is set to include 12 athletes, but Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponte was informed by the organizers that they won't be able to have the Israel flag on their judo uniform, as they do in every other event across the world. Instead of having ISR (Israel) by their names on the scoreboard and on their backs, they will have to take part in the contest as representatives of the IJF (International Judo Federation). The national anthem will also not be played, should an Israeli win a gold medal.
Among Israel's representatives to the event, which will be held between October 26-28, is Rio Olympics bronze medalist, Ori Sasson.
Ponte spoke with Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev
and offered to withdraw from the event. Regev, who was considering attending the competition, told him not to do so and sent a letter to International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer.
"This morning, just a few days after I so happily received your invitation to the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, I was surprised to learn that members of the Israeli delegation would not be able to appear in this important competition with the identifying symbols of our country - the State of Israel," read Regev's letter.
"The demand to appear without national symbols is contrary to the mandate of international sports associations, the main aim of which is to separate politics from sport, and strengthen sport as a bridge and connection between peoples, cultures and countries."
Israel's judokas encountered the exact same situation when they last competed in Abu Dhabi two years ago
. Regev said at the time that she would call an emergency meeting with the heads of local sports associations to discuss the issue, and had asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help her in the fight to avoid similar incidents in the future.
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