TEL AVIV (Jul. 5)
The Japanese Ambassador, Ichiko Katakami, expressed profound regrets yesterday over the last minute exclusion of an Israeli team from a karate tournament in Tokyo where the Israelis had been invited by the Japanese Karate Federation. Federation spokesmen made no secret of the fact that they were under severe pressure from the six Arab countries participating in the tournament to keep the Israelis out.
Katakami stressed that the Karate Federation is a non-governmental organization and that its action did not represent the attitude of the Japanese government. The Israeli team may sue for damages and the costs incurred by their trip to Japan and training expenses. It was learned that the eight-member team arrived in Tokyo last Thursday and were ready to enter the tournament which opened Friday.
At the last minute, they were asked by their hosts to withdraw because of Arab pressure, especially from Egypt. When they refused, they were told their security was in danger and in fact the team received anonymous telephone threats. Nevertheless, they marched in the opening parade even though they had been erased from the list of marchers and the Israeli flag removed from the tournament site.
The Israeli Ambassador, Shaul Ramati, intervened and the flag was restored but the Israeli team was ignored by the announcer when it marched past the reviewing stand. They said they intended to march at the closing ceremony with each team member carrying an Israeli flag. In addition to Egypt, the Arab countries participating are Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen. (By Yitzhak Shargil)