Israeli judokas compete in Abu Dhabi without nation’s symbols


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israeli judokas won medals at the Judo Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi after competing without symbols denoting their country.

The Israeli team reportedly agreed to compete without Israeli symbols and insignia in exchange for visas to enter the United Arab Emirates, which does not have formal relations with Israel.

Former world champion Yarden Gerbi won a bronze medal in the women under 63-kilogram weight class. Current European champion Sagi Muki also won a bronze in the men under 73-kilogram category.

Eight Israeli team members competed wearing uniforms bearing the International Judo Federation insignia. A ninth Israeli, who is a dual British citizen, competed for Britain.

Israel’s sports and culture minister, Miri Regev, said she would fight the ban on Israeli symbols in international competition.

“The banning of the Israel flag in an international competition of this magnitude is a failure which I will not overlook,” Regev said. “I plan to recruit all the forces in Israel, including the prime minister and Israeli diplomacy, in order to prevent a ban on Israeli sport, and the values and symbols of this country. We will not compromise on this matter.”

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