Israeli judo delegation arrives in Abu Dhabi

While the athletes are allowed to compete, they may not display the Israeli flag on their uniforms, nor will they be identified as Israeli athletes.

Israeli judoka Ori Sasson (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli judoka Ori Sasson
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s delegation to the judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi is hoping it will ultimately be allowed to compete under the Israel flag after International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer sent a letter to the organizers demanding that “the Israeli delegation shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects.”
The organizers had claimed that due to security reasons the Israelis can’t have their flag on their judo uniform and instead of having ISR (Israel) by their names on the scoreboard and on their backs, they will have to take part as representatives of the IJF (International Judo Federation).
Vizer wrote in his letter that the IJF Statutes “clearly provide that the IJF shall not discriminate on the ground of race, religion, gender or political opinion.”
He added that “there may not be any discrimination of any kind at any event organized by or supervised by the IJF, including of course the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.
“Therefore, the IJF hereby demands that at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.”
The blue-and-white team, numbering 12 athletes, arrived in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, one day later than scheduled after spending seven hours at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday only to return home frustrated.
The delegation was supposed to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, pick up its visas for Abu Dhabi before departing for its final destination.
However, shortly before the flight took off, Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponte was told by the organizers that the delegation can’t fly via Turkey as the visas state otherwise. An hour later, the organizers said the problem had been solved, but by that stage the flight the team was supposed to take to Istanbul had already departed.
After failing to book a later flight to Istanbul, Ponte and the coaching staff decided it would be best to allow the judokas to spend the night at home before embarking on the journey to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, this time via Amman, Jordan.
The organizers sent a letter to the Israel Judo Association on Tuesday apologizing “for the inconvenience caused, delay in issuance of visas for your teams.”
The Grand Slam begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday.